by: John Lopez (@LopezOnSports)
When numerous players at every NFL venue protested during the playing of the National Anthem on Sunday, did it make you angry?
Or did it make you uncomfortable?
The answer is important. It is important not just for the NFL, but for the society that worships the league every Sunday. And it is important for those who took a knee, or a seat.
If you were angry, then you are resolute. You either believe there are no racial or social injustices or there’s no place for protests on NFL game days. Either that or you believe respecting the flag is bigger than any possible slights or prejudices certain parts of our country believe to be present.
And that is, as we all know, your right.
As the grandson of a World War I infantryman who died of Mustard Gas poisoning, the son of a World War II vet and cousin of a Viet Nam Purple Heart recipient, I get it.
But if the protests made you uncomfortable, that’s an altogether different thing.
It means the protests might have worked. It means somewhere in your mind and heart, you get it.
You don’t feel good about the way the message was sent — hence, the uneasiness watching players take a knee or sitting. Most all of us, after all, grew up knowing what the Flag represents and respecting those who died protecting it.
Still, you probably got the message or understood the players’ collective frustration.
It made you think.
And that is something the flag represents, too. Listening to those expressing their frustration.
Protests to effect social change are not supposed to be comfortable. In fact, they are supposed to be the exact opposite of comfortable.
They are supposed to make you grimace. They are supposed to make you squirm in your seat a bit. They are supposed to do what these NFL protests have done.
That is, understand a little bit more about where someone who doesn’t look like you, or has not lived the life you’ve lived, is coming from.
They are supposed to open your eyes to another side of the issue.
And no matter where you may have stood before Sunday’s protests, or after — no matter political affiliation — on that front, what NFL players did Sunday worked.