NFL Players Weigh In On Where They Go From Here With Protests Following Owners' Meeting
NFL players around the league have been reacting to the meeting between owners and players on Tuesday regarding protests, and Seahawks DE Michael Bennett said that before the league and players "can move forward with conversations about working together on social causes, the issue of Colin Kaepernick's unemployment must be addressed," according to Brady Henderson of ESPN.com. Bennett said, "The first step to even being able to even have a conversation is making sure that Colin Kaepernick gets an opportunity to play in the NFL. I think before we even negotiate anything about whether we sit, whether we stand (during the national anthem), it should be a negotiation about opening up the doors for Colin Kaepernick and giving him an opportunity again, because I feel like through everything, that's been lost." He added, "I don't think we can work alongside of them until we address the issue" (ESPN.com, 10/18). In S.F., Eric Branch notes 49ers S Eric Reid, who attended Tuesday's meeting, "plans to continue to kneel at least until a second a meeting is held with owners within the next two weeks." Reid: "It doesn't change our plans (to kneel) -- just yet. It's a great starting point. Nothing is set in stone yet." He added, "The players brought (lost revenue) up. We knew that this was affecting their business. One owner in particular mentioned sponsorships that he had lost" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 10/19).
COULD PROTESTS END COMPLETELY? Dolphins S Michael Thomas, who was also in attendance on Tuesday, said that he is "optimistic enough" that he can "envision a point this season in which he ceases protesting during the national anthem." Thomas: "We're moving in the right direction." Asked if he will remain in the tunnel before Sunday's home game against the Jets, Thomas said, "We will see" (PALMBEACHPOST.com, 10/18). Jets LB Demario Davis, who attended the meeting, said, "I do think we’re near a time where the protest will end and athletes and owners will be at the forefront of social change for our country in a positive manner" (NEWSDAY, 10/19).
SPHERE OF INFLUENCE: In Seattle, Matt Calkins writes, "Which sports figure do you see having the most concrete influence on progress in this country? There is plenty of talent to choose from, but I’m going with Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin." Baldwin offers a "unique package equipped to create a tangible change for the better" (SEATTLE TIMES, 10/19). Baldwin earlier this week lent his name to a letter sent to Congress supporting criminal justice reform, a move he said "represents a unified effort” with the league. He said the owners have “done a fantastic job of … listening to the players and recognizing that there’s an opportunity for us -- again -- to have a unifying effort” (“OTL,” ESPN, 10/18).
MORE TALKS TO OCCUR: ESPN.com's Dan Graziano cited sources as saying that NFL players and owners "have scheduled a follow-up meeting" for Oct. 31 to "continue their discussions ... on how the league and players can work together to support causes and issues of importance to the players." The meeting "likely will take place once again" at league HQ in N.Y. The "expectation is that such meetings will continue on a regular basis for the foreseeable future" (ESPN.com, 10/18). The N.Y. Daily News’ Frank Isola said it was “good for the league and the owners to get the players in a room and say, ‘You know what, we care about the same issues that you care about.'" Isola: "Weeks, months from now, we'll get to see if this wasn't just a PR move.” ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan said the meeting sounded more like, "Let’s understand each other, let’s try to have a dialogue so I can understand where you're coming from and you can understand where I'm coming from." She added, "That’s the kind of communication that should have happened long before now" ("Around The Horn,” ESPN, 10/18).