Monday, September 25, 2017

J-Speaks: Don's Venomous Words Reach Pro Sports

If there is one thing that our 45th President of the United States Donald J. Trump has made clear is he is not afraid to say what is on his mind. He has made his opinions very clear on our former President Barack Obama. About Muslims, all minorities, immigrants, Democrats, and even Republicans. All it has done is divide and created more cynicism amongst all of us. This weekend, he targeted professional athletes. 
On Friday in another campaign style rally in Alabama, Mr. Trump started a daylong war of words against the National Football League players who have kneeled during the national anthem. 
“If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do,” Mr. Trump tweeted Saturday afternoon @realDonaldTrump. 
He specifically said at that rally in Alabama on Friday, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now! Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’” 
In solidarity, many NFL teams during the national anthem before games of the Week 3 schedule used that time to defy Mr. Trump by either taking a knee, locking arms with their teammates, coaches, and even owners. NFL teams Tennessee Titans, Seattle Seahawks, and all but one of the Pittsburgh Steelers in offensive tackle former US Army ranger Alejandro Villanueva stayed in the locker rooms.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell answered back in a statement over the weekend by saying, “Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game, and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs, and players represent in our communities.”
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said after the team’s 27-24 loss at the Chicago Bears Sunday he wanted to make sure his team was united together and not split on how they feel about the situation. 
“We will not be divided by this,” he said. “We got a group of men in their man that come from different social, economic backgrounds. Races, creed, ethnicities, and religions, and so forth. That’s football. That’s a lot of team sports. But, because of our position, we get drugged into ‘!@#’ to be quite honest with you. Some have opinions. Some don’t. We wanted to protect those that don’t. We wanted to protect those that do.” 
This is on the heels of just four players standing during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner the prior week. 
The kneeling for the national anthem first began a season ago when then San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, protested the brutality by police officers across the country against African Americans, and other minorities.  
Five-time Super Bowl winning signal caller of the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots Tom Brady, who is a close friend and supporter of Mr. Trump locked arms with wide receiver Phillips Dorsett before their home game against the Houston Texans, while owner Robert Kraft, a strong supporter of the Mr. Trump expressed deep disappointment with No. 45. 
“I certainly disagree with, you know, what he said, and you know, thought it was just divisive,” Brady said on the WEEI Sports Radio Show “Kirk & Callahan” on Monday
Former New York Jets, and Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan, also a Trump supporter expressed his feelings on Sunday during ESPN’s “Sunday NFL Countdown.” 
“I’m pissed off. I’ll be honest with you,” Ryan said. “I’m reading these comments, and it’s appalling to me, and I’m sure it’s appalling to almost any citizen in our country. It should be.” 
That defiance did nothing to move the needle on what Mr. Trump said on Friday, as he tweeted on Sunday night, “Great solidarity for our National Anthem and for our country. Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable. Bad ratings!”
Besides critiquing NFL players, Mr. Trump set his anger on the National Basketball Association (NBA) when Curry saying to ESPN’s “NBA: The Jump” hosts Rachel Nichols and Paul Pierce at Warriors’ Media Day on Friday that the team was discussing about if they wanted to go to the White House. Earlier this off-season, perennial All-Star, and Finals MVP Kevin Durant openly said that he does not want to attend. 
Curry said to Nichols, and Pierce that he was on that same tip, but also said that he did not want to rush this decision because of the magnitude of it. 
“We have an opportunity to send a statement that hopefully encourages unity. Encourages us to just appreciate what it means to be an American, and stand for something,” he said. 
“Whatever your opinion is on either side, that’s what we want take advantage of this opportunity.” 
Unfortunately, that visit to the White House to meet President Trump was taken off the table when he tweeted on Saturday morning, “Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!” 
The Warriors answered by a statement that said, “While we intended to meet as a team at the first opportunity we had this morning to collaboratively discuss a potential visit to the White House, we accept that President Trump has made it clear that we are not invited. We believe there is nothing more American than our citizens having the right to express themselves freely on matters important to them. We’re disappointed that we did not have an opportunity during this process to share our views or have open dialogue on issues impacting our communities that we felt would be important to raise. In lieu of a visit to the White House, we have decided that we’ll constructively use our trip to the nation’s capital in February to celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion-the values that we embrace as an organization.”   
In the aftermath of Mr. Trump’s statements on twitter, and in Alabama, many pro athletes and college programs have tweeted their opinions, or expressed through their actions how they feel about what is going on in our country. 
Four-time MVP of the Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James tweeted, “U bum @StephanCurry30 already said he ain’t going! So therefore ain’t no invite. Going to the White House was a great honor until you showed up!”
James was more forthcoming at Cavs’ Media Day saying, “The people run this country. Not one individual, and damn sure not him.” 
“He doesn’t understand how many kids, no matter the race lookup to the President of the United States for guidance. For leadership. For words of encouragement. He doesn’t understand that, and that’s what makes me more sick than anything.”  
Houston Rockets guard, and President of the NBA’s Player’s Association said in his own tweet, “With everything that is going on in our country, why are YOU focused on kneeling and visiting the White House???” 
Paul went on to question Trump’s courage to call any of those NFL players a female dog to their face.  
Oakland Athletics’ rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell took a knee before the team’s 1-0 win versus the Texas Rangers on Saturday, which made him the first MLB player to engage himself into this national debate. 
The reality of this whole situation is the fact that we are a divided country. We are divided in how we should feel about each other. Who we should trust, respect, and listen to? 
What makes our country great is that we are all different, unique individuals with special and similar qualities that should be respected. We all should be able to live how we chose. Above all, we should respect each other, and build our nation to be all for one and one for all. 
Mr. Trump with divisive words in front of crowds and his twitter account has divided our country, and taken his personal grievances out for the whole world to see. His words have denied the chance for the likes of some of the greatest athletes in the world from college and the professional ranks a chance to visit one of the greatest places in the entire world, just to play to the ladies and gentlemen that voted him into the White House in Nov. 2016. 
The University of North Carolina’s reigning National Championship team stated on Saturday that they will be unable to show up for a visit to the White House, though the News & Observer reported it is due to a scheduling conflict.
New York Yankees’ pitcher CC Sabathia said after if the “Bronx Bombers” win the World Series this season, that he too would not accept an invite to the White House. 
“If the opportunity is there, I probably wouldn’t go,” the Yankees’ All-Star pitcher said after the team’s playoff clinching 5-1 win versus the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday.  
It does our nation no good when minorities are killed by the police, who are supposed to protect them. It also does not help us when people who do support the American Flag throw figurative stones at those who have questions. 
On Monday’s addition of the syndicated talk show “The Real,” comedienne, and host Loni Love talked about how last Sunday just six NFL players took a knee during the National Anthem. But, after President Trump vial words on Friday, all NFL players, and owners decided to take a stand. 
She mentioned that the NFL players did not stand on the field for the National Anthem, until 2009 when U.S. Government paid the league to come out to stand for the Star-Spangled Banner, which is referred to as “Paid Patriotism.” 
Love, a former Girl Scout talked about the US Flag Code: Chapter 10.17C, which she posted on her Instagram @comiclonilove. That code states, “The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.”
“I believe God,” Love said. “I believe God has a way to work through people, and I think he did work through Donald Trump, because Donald Trump opened up his mouth. Now it’s bringing it back, and we have to discuss it.”
The way that we see the American Flag planted across a football field before NFL games is inappropriate, and disrespectful. It is not supposed to be worn, or to be in advertisements. The code does state that you should stand if you are a civilian, and if you are a current or former member of the military, you salute.
When Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the Star-Spangled Banner in protest of police brutality against minorities. As a result, no NFL team offered to even bring him in for a workout, let alone offer him a contract. He did it because he wanted to make a point that minorities in this country deserve to be respected, and protected by the police, including officials like the President. Even if it does cost him playing another down in the NFL.
When those who respect our nation’s greatest symbol, the Flag of the United States of America put down those who take a knee or got into the locker room when the National Anthem is being played is wrong. It’s a disgrace when the most visible human symbol of our nation, the President of the United States does not emphatically condemn the worst of our country like white supremacist, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Neo-Nazis. 
What we saw over the weekend across the NFL was a stand against the toxic waste of words that came out of the mouth of President of Donald J. Trump. He took a sledge hammer to the character of the NFL, its players, and owners. Several of whom gave over a million dollars to his campaign. 
He turned his nose up at two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry and the reigning NBA champion Warriors because they questioned how he has conducted business as Commander in Chief.  

HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel," said it best at the close of the latest edition of the show on Tuesday by thanking Trump for his vulgar words that forced the pro sports athletes to stand up and be heard.

"A quick thanks to the occupant of the White House. For energizing the social conscious of the modern American athlete," he said. "That occupant's weekend series of racists, churlish, and childish comments drew a variety of stunning rebukes, and actions, which suggests jocks may finally be realizing that apathy won't cut it anymore. That in conjunction with their fame, they have important civic roles to play, especially now."

What one of the finest journalist of our generation in Mr. Gumble, who happens to be African American meant is that today's professional athlete has realized that going into the path of least resistance head on like some of the greats before them like Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Bill Russell, Billie Jean King, Roberto Clemente, and Arthur Ashe to name a few had the courage to challenge authority in the pursuit of justice. 

Gumble quote legendary musici Bob Dylan saying, "the times they are changing," but also is the reality that certain things have not changed at all, like police brutality against minorities, which is why Kaepernick began his protest by kneeling during the National Anthem in the first place.
While we as citizens of this great nation need to become better students at being able to understand each other and what we all want, President Trump needs to be a better deliver of the message that he says in public, and above all, he must understand that he as the Commander in Chief represents all of us, not just some of us. The more he spews out negativity, and destructive rhetoric that empowers hateful feelings and emotions out at others, the more divided we will become as a nation. The weaker we will appear to the rest of the world, and the more likely we will destroy the trust, and respect we all need to have to make our nation better. 
Going forward, we all as citizens of the United States of America need to be present in how we treat each other. We must listen more and talk less. If nothing else, we need to vote the right people into office that will respect all people, and raise our standing that will earn respect from our allies across the globe, and condemn the righteous acts and feelings of our enemies. 
Information, and quotations are courtesy of 9/23/17 4:30 p.m. edition of NBATV’s “Gametime,” with Matt Winer, and Dennis Scott; 9/23/17 11:30 p.m. edition of WABC 7 “Eyewitness News,” with Sandra Bookman, Laura Behnke with Sports, and Jeff Smith with Weather, with report from ABC News’ Lynda Lopez; 9/24/17 11 p.m. edition of WABC 7 “Eyewitness News,” with Bill Ritter, Sandra Bookman, Laura Behnke with Sports, and Jeff Smith with Weather, report from CeFaan Kim;;; 9/24/17, story from the New York Post “Don’s Scores To Settle,” by Dean Balsamini, and Laura Italiano; 9/25/17 4:30 a.m. edition of WLNY Fox %’s “Good Day Early Call,” with Sukanya Krishnan, Jennifer Lahmers, Mike Woods with weather, and Ines Rosales with traffic; 9/25/17 11 a.m. edition of “The Real,” on WNYW Fox 5 with Tamera Mowry-Housley, Jeannie Mai, Adrienne Houghton, and Loni Love; 9/25/17 4 p.m. edition of WABC 7 “Eyewitness News First at 4,” with Lauren Glassberg, Liz Cho, and Lee Goldberg with weather, with report from Josh Einiger; and 9/26/17 10 p.m. edition of HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumble." 

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