*Tennessee Titans player Rishard Matthews says he will take a knee before every game until Donald Trump apologizes for his comments against protesting NFL players, which included calling the athletes sons of bitches and calling on owners to fire them on the spot.
Based on Trump’s track record with apologies, plan on seeing the wide receiver kneeling for the foreseeable future.
“I plan to kneel until the president apologizes for the comments that he made because I felt like those were very disrespectful comments that he made,” Matthews said on ESPN’s NFL Live Tuesday. “The league is made up of I think over 70 percent of African-Americans so the people that would be kneeling for this cause would be African-Americans. To keep it honest, he was calling a lot of us and he was calling me an S.O.B. and that’s not OK and very disrespectful. So, I plan to kneel until the president apologizes.”
Following his 55-yard touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, Matthews raised his right fist, the longtime African American symbol for solidarity against racial injustice.
Matthews has always had a stance against racial inequality and police brutality, but he grew up a military brat whose brother died serving in Afghanistan. His dad served for 23 years. He felt conflicted by the use of the anthem as a vehicle for the protest, but he said Sunday night his stance shifted as it became more apparent to him that this message was more important than the method.
“I’m tired of hearing stick to sports. It comes down to right and wrong in this world,” Matthews said Sunday. “If you see wrong and don’t say anything that’s wrong. As minorities, what do you want to happen before we say anything? They tried to have a silent protest and look what happened. It’s your right to stand or sit down. You have that right, that freedom of speech, and you’re not allowing that to happen.”
“We’re not ragdogs. We’re people just like you.”
After Sunday’s game, Matthews said he would have knelt during the anthem if the Titans had not remained in the locker room during the song. He noted that players, like himself, can be pro-military, but use their platform to protest these issues during the anthem. Matthews is challenging those who attack protesting players to answer why they can’t see that view as well.
“Moving forward, I don’t want this to be a publicity stunt,” Matthews said. “I don’t want to take away from what the whole protest is about, which is oppression, police brutality and inequality in this country. I fully stand with my brother Kaep and I plan to continue to do that.”
Before the game, Matthews wore cleats that read “we are one” and “we all bleed the same.”