- Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien told the Houston Chronicle that he would kneel alongside players in protest this coming NFL season.
- “Yeah, I’ll take a knee. I’m all for it,” O’Brien said. “The players have a right to protest, a right to be heard and a right to be who they are.”
- O’Brien’s statement of support is just one of many that have come from figures across the NFL in recent days, with players, coaches, team owners, and the league front office all backing player protests.
- We could be seeing some real change in the NFL, with those that choose to criticise the protests facing a united front of support from the league when the time comes.
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Houston Texans head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien is ready to take a knee.
Speaking with John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, O’Brien said that he’d kneel alongside his players in protest of police brutality and racial injustice during the coming NFL season.
“Yeah, I’ll take a knee. I’m all for it,” O’Brien said. “The players have a right to protest, a right to be heard and a right to be who they are. They’re not taking a knee because they’re against our flag. They’re taking a knee because they haven’t been treated equally in this country for over 400 years.”
O’Brien wasn’t alone in his support for the Texans who choose to take part in protests. Team chairman Cal McNair offered a similar message of solidarity after the death of George Floyd.
“When you think about how big the issue is, if we can help make a little change in Houston, maybe it will be like a pebble in the pond that creates a ripple,” McNair told McClain. “What happened to George Floyd brought to life something that’s bigger than football, and you can’t ignore it. We felt like we couldn’t stay silent. We felt like we had to say and do something. We want to help make changes.
“This is the right thing to do, and I think our players recognise that. We want to support our players and our community. We’re all in this boat together.”
According to ESPN, O’Brien attended George Floyd’s funeral earlier in the week, along with McNair and several players. Floyd, a Houston native, died last month in Minneapolis after a police officer knelt on his neck as Floyd pleaded for his life. Video of his death sparked protests and demonstrations across the country, and in the NFL, spurred on change at a quick pace.
NFL players have already stepped up, both to march alongside protesters and help with relief efforts. Other star players, including Patrick Mahomes, Michael Thomas, Odell Beckham Jr., and many more, put together a video demanding a more emphatic response to the current moment from the league.
Last week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made good on that demand, saying, “Black lives matter,” apologised for not being more supportive of player protests, and vowed that the league wanted to “be part of the much-needed change in this country” in a video message.
Even NFL owners are starting to get involved in the effort. On Thursday, Tennessee Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Struck published a statement vocally supporting players’ right to protest. Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti followed with a powerful statement on Friday. While ESPN’s NFL insider Dianni Russini suggested that some owners may wait to take a cue from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, these statements may continue to come out from teams across the league as we inch closer to training camp.
When viewed together, the broad swath of NFL voices makes it feel like the league may be on the verge of real change. While we won’t know where the league truly stands until the season starts, those who wish to misconstrue and criticise the protests will be facing a much more united front than they have in the past.
In the past, we saw a few players taking a knee in protest of police brutality and receiving little support, if not outright antagonism from the league.
As we approach the start of the regular season, we’re seeing players, coaches, the league front office, and now even some owners come together to support the players’ right to protest and say, “Black lives matter.”
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