- - Monday, July 23, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Did you hear the one about the Florida man playing music in his garage? Police responded to a noise complaint and killed him — shooting through his closed garage door. A federal jury last month awarded the family $4 for its pain and suffering.

The St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office said the shooter “was placed in a very difficult situation, and like so many fellow law enforcement officers must do every day, he made the best decision he could for the safety of his partner, himself and the public given the circumstances he faced.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wideout Mike Evans heard about the case over the weekend and contributed $11,000 to a GoFundMe campaign for Gregory Hill’s family, including the three now-fatherless children.

Sadly, gross injustices such as Hill’s death don’t rile up folks nearly as much as NFL players’ symbolic gestures during the national anthem.

I understand if you’re tired of the ongoing debate on proper posture and policies during pregame proceedings. But the cause should be more tiresome and troubling than the effect. The same energy used to protest players who protest should be directed at our nation’s systematic inequality.

Something is wrong when mass murderers can be arrested peacefully but unarmed innocent men are threats that require deadly force. If taking a knee during the anthem could change that dynamic, no one in the stadium should stand at attention.

The NFL can blame itself for continued discussion on this topic. The issue had died by the end of last season, yet the league unnecessarily resurrected it with a ham-handed new policy in May. A grievance was filed by the NFL Players Association and the league last week put the new policy on hold.

In a joint statement announcing their goal of “finding a solution to the anthem issue,” they said: “The NFL and NFLPA reflect the great values of America, which are repeatedly demonstrated by the many players doing extraordinary work in communities across our country to promote equality, fairness and justice.”

You can’t always tell by the news headlines, but those players vastly outnumber the group that reflects America’s terrible values. You know, the traditional customs of domestic abuse, sexual assault and other forms of violence. Last month, two women resigned from the union’s commission on domestic abuse, claiming it’s a “body that exists in name only.”

NFL bashers love to point out alleged miscreants while overlooking the players who do commendable work in the community.

That’s like highlighting all the good police officers while turning a blind eye to rotten cops.

But protests during the national anthem aren’t about NFL players. It’s not about how much money they make or whether they have criminal records. It’s not about their charitable donations or random acts of kindness. It’s not about their franchise, owner or POTUS.

And most of all, it’s not about the anthem.

“That’s where everybody’s messing up,” Tennessee Titans defensive end Jurrell Casey told CNN last week, announcing his intention to continue raising a fist after the song. “We’re just using that time as a platform. The way the justice system treats minorities is the issue that we have.

“… At the end of the day, we’ve got to do a job,” he said. “But I will continue to use my platform to keep on speaking up.”

Whether raising a fist, writing a check, issuing a statement or taking a knee, there are many ways to speak up and speak out. I get it: Many NFL fans dislike the method and hate the timing of player protests. We know it bothers one presumed fan to no end.

“First time kneeling, out for game,” the Tweeter-in-Chief tweeted Friday. “Second time kneeling, out of season/no pay!”

“Thanks for your thoughts,” Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle and NFLPA president Eric Winston tweeted in reply. “But we’ll take it from here.”

That’s what NFL owners should’ve said from the start, opting to negotiate instead of ignoring collective bargaining to foist a dumb new policy on the workforce. The move made a segment of the population happy but was doomed to fail.

Unfortunately, we’ll continue to spend more time and passion on the protests, rather than the incidents that spark them. Some fans will claim they’re done with the NFL; others say they’ve already left.

The game will go on.

But will the injustice ever end?

Deron Snyder writes his award-winning column for The Washington Times on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Follow him on Twitter @DeronSnyder.


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