We love when athletes speak their mind on topics other than the games they play… as long as we agree with them. If we don’t, players across the country are greeted with a familiar phrase: “Stick to sports.”
This fall, dozens of NFL players have not been following orders.
What began as a national-anthem protest by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in August has swelled into widespread support from those who believe there are still mountains to climb regarding race relations and social justice in our country.
College football players — including players from No. 4 Michigan this past weekend — have begun protesting during the “Star-Spangled Banner,” and several players and coaches at NBA media days this week made it clear that kneeling, sitting or raising fists during the anthem will not be a passing fad.
“Because I am the football coach doesn’t mean I can dictate to people what they believe,” Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh told ESPN.com. “I support our guys. I think this is something, it’s not going away, it’s gonna keep happening.”
Alabama football players will not be able to join in for a simple reason: they are never on the field during the song.
But that doesn’t mean they won’t be voicing their opinions in other ways.
“We play football, but we have a life, also,” tight end O.J. Howard told the media on Tuesday evening. “We can say what we want to say.”
"We play football, but we have a life also. We can say what we want to say." — O.J. Howard on people telling players to stick to football pic.twitter.com/pfFUF0LfiE
— Marq Burnett (@Marq_Burnett) September 27, 2016
His comments were a response to a question asked about running back Damien Harris, who tweeted an opinion about Monday night’s presidential debate and was met with an unsupportive response.
“If you’re smart, you’ll stick to football, son,” one user wrote.
Multiple other players — including linebacker Mekhi Brown, offensive lineman Nolan Boatner and All-American safety Eddie Jackson — tuned into the debate and commented.
It showed that Crimson Tide players are not going to be silent in this volatile political climate. And Howard’s words were loud and clear: sticking to sports is not the only option for Alabama players this fall.