By JT Haines, December 2, 2014
Five players from the St. Louis Rams NFL football team entered the field on Sunday with “hands up” in a show of solidarity with Ferguson demonstrators. What a remarkable gesture in the context of an NFL that is not exactly known for its departure from pre-approved narratives (e.g., chevy, pink ribbons, and patriotism).
True to script, though, police brass took the gesture personally (which suggests something about the mindset of police brass). Evidently St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar sent an email to staff last night suggesting that Rams Executive VP of Operations Kevin Demoff had apologized on behalf of the team, stating that Demoff “clearly regretted that any members of the Rams organization would act in a way that minimized the outstanding work that police officers carry out each and every day.” (AP)
Demoff’s response? No, we didn’t. “Our players’ goal was to show support for positive change in our community. I do believe that supporting our players’ First Amendment rights and supporting local law enforcement are not mutually exclusive.” (AP)
A nuanced and positive response from an NFL exec, you say? Great!**
What these players did here was really brave, and their positive community-oriented message reflects well on a league that could frankly use it. Demoff and the Rams are absolutely correct to support them, and we should too.
About his participation, Tight End Jared Cook said “We help build up the people around this community daily with our visiting schools and talking to kids, so coming out and showing that we’re unified with the rest of them, it was key to us.” (AP)
Yes. Yes. Yes. Thank you to Stedman Bailey (12), Tavon Austin (11), Jared Cook, (89) Chris Givens (13) and Kenny Britt (81).
** Rams’ Coach Fischer’s response was perhaps more standard: “I firmly believe it’s important that I keep sports and politics separate. I’m a head coach. I’m not a politician, an activist or an expert on societal issues.” Of course, Coach, chevy, pink ribbons, and patriotism are also massively and inevitably political, but that’s a subject for another day.