Call this a quarterback sneak.
Green Bay Packer quarterback Aaron Rodgers – perhaps the best quarterback in the league and definitely one of its most popular players – has decided that the blame for the NFL kneelers lies not with the kneelers themselves but rather the president of the United States.
At a press conference following his team’s victory over the Chicago Bears, Rodgers charged the president with being divisive without mentioning his name.
“It’s never been about the national anthem, it’s never been about the military,” Rodgers said of the protests.
“We’re all patriotic in the locker room, we love our troops. This is about something bigger than that: an invitation to show unity in the face of some divisiveness from the top in this country.”
Funny, but some of us are old enough to remember when one of the ways to show unity was to simply stand for the national anthem. Apparently that day has passed.
In Mr. Rodgers defense, it is not uncommon to find two weeks after a protest movement has started that if one were to ask 10 of these protestors why they are protesting, one would hear five different responses.
When the Occupy Wall Street movement began, for example, it was to many (including socialists, libertarians, and conservatives) a way of showing their displeasure with the bank bailouts.
The Black Lives Matters movement similarly was said to have begun to draw attention to ‘police brutality against African-Americans’.
However, both movements were soon said by some of their most dedicated followers to be about issues ranging from Marxism to Palestinian genocide to transgender rights.
So perhaps Mr. Rodgers can be forgiven for thinking the NFL kneeling cause is about ‘something bigger than patriotism’: protesting Donald Trump.
But Mr. Rodgers should be reminded that the kneeling movement began before Donald Trump became president.
In August of 2016, Colin Kaepernick, who was a football player back then, although by that time not a very good one, began the movement by saying “I am not going to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
And others – some in the NFL, some not – who have joined in the movement claim to be protesting such things as gay rights to calling for an end to “income inequality.”
So while Mr. Rodgers may be correct in saying that the protests aren’t anti-military, they are obviously about more than Donald Trump.
Aaron Rodgers probably knows this and is trying a trick play to fool the fans who are turning against him and his sport. But if he doesn’t, then he should ask his teammates.