NFL Anthem Controversy Should Start Real Discussions

Thursday night’s game between the Chicago Bears and Greenbay Packers showed us that the anthem protests are not going away. Here’s why they should evolve into a greater discussion.

By Patrick Jude

Stadiums have become rabid zoos filled with starving animals. Some of them hold microphones on the sidelines, others scream obscenities at their last week idols; some of them even love it. That’s right.  People are loving this. The media is milking it for every damn drop. We’ve become such an angry nation that we jump to distance ourselves from the things we love most – and football is just another catalyst in a long list of throwaways.

Instead of playing up the hype with a “guess you’ll just have to wait and see” attitude, the opening team for this week of football sought to dispel the anticipation factor surrounding Thursday night’s game.  The Packers released a statement, drafted by Tight End Martellus Bennett, earlier this week inexplicably stating their intentions of locking arms; while upping the ante, and extending their hands by asking the fans of Lambeau Field to join them in solidarity.

Bennett, who was recently acquired by The Patriots, had sat on the bench during the anthem on Sunday – and it’s hard to blame him. Last month Bennett’s brother was detained by Las Vegas officers after gunshots were fired in a casino on the night of the Mayweather / McGregor match. A video was quickly released in which Bennett’s brother is seen responding promptly in compliance to the arresting officer’s orders – hands behind the back, and quick!  Images were soon released of an officer holding a, presumed, gun while on top of Bennett.

For those who haven’t realized, this brother of Martellus is also the famed Seattle Seahawk, Michael Bennett; an active NFL player and Super Bowl champ.  Bennett was released after the team of cops decided he couldn’t be the gunman they were looking for because…he didn’t have a gun.  The only evidence the team of cops cited for the incident was that Bennett was running, a pretty normal reaction to open gunfire.

If Martellus Bennett can put aside his recent personal experience with racial prejudice to ask the fans to, literally and symbolically, link arms in solidarity, maybe, just maybe we can take him up on it.

These players across the league are working to have their disdain heard in a unifying way. Don’t want them to sit, they kneel. Don’t want to kneel, they put up solidarity fists while standing.  Don’t want them to put up fists, well now they’ll try locking arms.

People have worked to discredit and diminish their statement. Some say the NFL needs to focus on domestic violence, but they apparently failed to watch any football last year as almost every commercial break included an ad for the “No More” campaign.  People say they’re disrespecting soldiers, and yet they take the same knee fellow soldiers take when they say goodbye to a brother.

The fact of the matter is that these players see something wrong with the world they’re living in. Young minority men and women shouldn’t be killed for selling single cigarettes. They shouldn’t be dragged to the ground like Bennett and detained under no fathomable evidence. They shouldn’t be murdered with their hands up, begging an officer not to shoot.  The players see this problem and are acting – PEACEFULLY.

Dissent is the highest form of patriotism, as Thomas Jefferson once said, and when I see those players down their enduring boos instead of cheers, losing their endorsements, risking what they’ve spent their entire lives working for and knowing they could potentially be fired, that’s patriotism folks. That’s being an American.

The goal of having an entire stadium locked in arms was met with mixed reviews; about half of the fans participated. All of the players participated, arm in arm, and loudly sent the message that there are some conversations this nation needs to have in regards to various sociological conditions that minorities face today – such as proportionally minority employed jobs being the first to be shipped away, i.e. Post-NAFTA industrial cities like Detroit.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers urged the concept of displaying respect while simultaneously sending a message. Despite their best efforts, Rodgers and the team have still faced criticism over the act; solidifying the notion that there’s just no way for minorities to exercise their thoughts publicly without backlash.

After throwing four TD’s with 0 interceptions, a stellar Defensive performance and a massive win over a divisional rival, it’s safe to say The Packers will remain unmoved by any negative narrative.


Born and raised in Orlando, and Socialist to the core, Patrick Jude graduated from The University Of Central Florida in 2015. He currently holds a B.A. in English Literature, as well as an A.A. in Jazz Performance from Valencia College. Jude is heavily tattooed, abstains from alcohol and is an avid Packers fan.