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Eric Winston rips Chiefs fans for cheering Cassel injury

Chiefs Packers Football AP

Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel may not be very popular in the stands, but he still has support in the locker room.

Chiefs right tackle Eric Winston took fans to task for cheering when Cassel left the game with a head injury.

The veteran blocker called a group of reporters over, and said the following words, via Arrowhead Pride:

“We are athletes, OK? We are athletes. We are not gladiators. This is not the Roman Coliseum. People pay their hard-earned money when they come in here and I believe they can boo, they can cheer and they can do whatever they want, I believe that. We are lucky to play this game. People, it’s hard to economic times, and they still pay the money to do this.

“But when somebody gets hurt, there are long lasting ramifications to the game we play, long lasting ramifications to the game we play. I’ve already kinda come to the understanding that I won’t live as long because I play this game and that’s OK, that’s a choice I’ve made and a choice all of us have made.

“But when you cheer, when you cheer somebody getting knocked out, I don’t care who it is, and it just so happened to be Matt Cassel — it’s sickening. It’s 100 percent sickening. I’ve been in some rough times on some rough teams, I’ve never been more embarrassed in my life to play football than in that moment right there.

“I get emotional about it because these guys, they work their butts off. Matt Cassel hasn’t done anything to you people, hasn’t done anything to you people. Hasn’t done anything to the media writers that kill him, hasn’t done anything wrong to the people that come out here and cheer him. Hey, if he’s not the best quarterback then he’s not the best quarterback and that’s OK. But he’s a person. And he got knocked out in a game and we have 70,000 people cheering that he got knocked out?

“Boo him all you want. Boo me all you want. Throw me under the bus. Tell me I’m doing a bad job. Say I gotta protect him more. Do whatever you want. Say whatever you want. But if you are one of those people, one of those people that were out there cheering or even smiled when he got knocked out, I just want to let you know, and I want everybody to know that I think it’s sickening and disgusting. We are not gladiators and this is not the Roman Coliseum. This is a game.

“I’ll sit here and I’ll answer all your questions for the next 30 minutes if you want to ask them and I’ll take all the responsibility I can take because I deserve it but don’t blame a guy, and don’t cheer for a guy who has done everything in his power to play as good as he can for the fans.

“It’s sickening. And I was embarrassed. I want every single one of you people to put this on your station and in your newspapers because I want every fan to know that. This is a game that’s going to cost us a lot down the road. That’s OK. We picked it, we deserve it and I don’t want your pity. But we have a lot of problems as a society if people think that’s OK.

“I’ll get off my soap box and you guys can ask any football question you want.”

No, Eric, that pretty much covers it.

The Chiefs have played poorly. Frankly, they are a disaster. Cassel leads the parade.

But for too many fans, their passion for the team leads them to forget that the laundry they’re cheering for has a human being inside it.

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Jason Witten: Tony Romo will bounce back quickly, at a high level

Jason Witten, Tony Romo AP

Few people have had a better view of Tony Romo’s body of work than Cowboys teammate Jason Witten.

And the veteran tight end thinks there’s no doubt the 36-year-old quarterback will return to form this year, after the compression fractures in his back that will keep him out for some portion of the start of the season. Romo has dealt with back injuries before and returned to play well, and that’s part of what makes Witten so confident.

“I’m not a doctor, I’m not here to give him a sales pitch or anything like that, but I do know what he’s about, I know what his mindset is and he’ll get back quickly and play at a high level,” Witten said, via Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Age is just a number from that standpoint. You can’t allow that to get in the way of what you’re goals are and how hard you worked. He’s had a great off-season, he’s built on a lot of those things.

“He had his best season after the back injury in ’13 going into ’14. People are going to bet against him, that’s fine, and I don’t think that’s unfair to do so. But if you know what he’s about, which everybody in this building does, he’s going to be back sooner than probably expected and he’ll play better than anybody thought he would because I know that’s what he’s about.”

Of course, the Cowboys are buoyed by the fact rookie Dak Prescott had such a good preseason, and they deliberately tried to Romo-proof their offense by drafting running back Ezekiel Elliott in the first round.

But losing their leader is still hard for them.

“On the face of this, it really does hurt,” Witten said. “Tony possesses traits that very few have. When he’s not out there, it’s challenging.

“But I don’t think the expectations adjust any. I think the reason for that is we believe in the construction of this team, that it is strong. One of the things we’re trying to do is build on our offensive line, our run game, play-action game, threats down the field, defense, flying around, getting balls out, play field position. I commend coach [Jason] Garrett for that because he does build this structure around that, that it’s not about one individual.”

The hope is that there will be a season left to play for when he returns. The Cowboys were 1-11 without him last year, and since he took over as the starter in 2006, they’re 78-49 with him and 10-23 without him.

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Calvin Johnson heading to the dance floor

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 21:  Calvin Johnson #81 of the Detroit Lions participates in warmups prior to a game against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 21, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) Getty Images

Calvin Johnson won’t be competing for victories on the football field this year, but retirement from the gridiron doesn’t mean he’s giving up competing at all.

ABC announced the cast for the forthcoming season of “Dancing With the Stars” on Tuesday and it includes the former Lions wide receiver. He joins Emmitt Smith, Von Miller, Antonio Brown, Hines Ward and other NFLers as contestants on the long-running show.

Johnson will have some competition from the athletic world in Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez and Olympic swimmer/fabulist Ryan Lochte. Vanilla Ice, former Texas Governor Rick Perry and Maureen McCormick, a.k.a. Marcia from “The Brady Bunch,” are some of the others who will be showing off their tango moves this year.

Johnson announced his retirement from the Lions this offseason after nine years with the team.

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Tuesday morning one-liners

Chicago Bears tackle Kyle Long, left, speaks to his brother, New England Patriots defensive end Chris Long, right, at midfield after a preseason NFL football game Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) AP

LB Manny Lawson is expected to play for the Bills on Thursday night.

A look at some of the Dolphins’ toughest roster calls.

DE Chris Long has fared well in his first preseason with the Patriots.

The Jets aren’t showing much concern about the readiness of the offense.

WR Breshad Perriman may play for the Ravens for the first time on Thursday night.

Injuries will make some Bengals roster decisions more difficult.

Browns CB Joe Haden said the lesson of LB Paul Kruger’s departure is that anyone can go if they aren’t making plays.

CB Artie Burns is set to make his delayed debut in the Steelers lineup.

Texans coach Bill O’Brien continues to hint at DE J.J. Watt making his return for Week One.

What will RB Stevan Ridley’s role be with the Colts?

The Jaguars have more work to do on the offensive line.

The Titans’ top spot in the waiver order will come in handy in the coming days.

Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders likes QB Trevor Siemian’s “calm demeanor.”

LB Justin Houston did his rehab work outside at the Chiefs facility on Monday.

Said Raiders coach Jack Del Rio of QB Derek Carr, “He’s super prepared, and the timing on some of the throws and the decision-making — I’m just very pleased with that.”

What’s next for DE Joey Bosa now that he’s signed with the Chargers?

Former Cowboys wide receivers coach Hubbard Alexander died at the age of 77.

The Giants expect LB Jonathan Casillas back for the season opener.

Eagles LB Mychal Kendricks is set to play in Thursday’s game.

The Bryan Stork saga came to an end and the Redskins are back where they started at center.

Will the Bears activate LB Pernell McPhee in time for the season?

Lions TE Eric Ebron thought the worst when he hurt his ankle this summer.

P Tim Masthay has held onto his job with the Packers.

The Vikings defense has come together over the course of the preseason.

Falcons rookie S Keanu Neal had knee surgery on Monday.

The Panthers are trying to familiarize themselves with Trevor Siemian ahead of the season opener.

C Max Unger isn’t panicking about an unsettled Saints offensive line.

The battle for the final spots at receiver continues for the Buccaneers.

Mike Jenkins‘ torn ACL leaves the Cardinals short at cornerback.

A look at the depth on the Rams defensive line.

49ers QB Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit during the national anthem will be fodder for Madden 17.

The Seahawks have made good use of “empty” formations on offense.

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Earl Wolff waived/injured as Jags drop to 78 players

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 11: Earl Wolff #42 of the Jacksonville Jaguars warms up before an NFL preseason game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on August 11, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) Getty Images

Safety Earl Wolff had a harrowing experience in February when he was carjacked and kidnapped in Arkansas in an incident that left him wondering if he would make it out alive.

Wolff did and returned to trying to make the Jaguars, an effort that came to an end on Monday when the team announced that the former Eagles fifth-round pick was waived with an injury designation. That was one of 12 moves that the Jaguars made to get to 78 players ahead of Tuesday’s deadline to cut to 75 players.

The team also placed offensive lineman Jeff Linkenbach on injured reserve and transferred center Luke Bowanko and rookie defensive end Jonathan Woodard, who tore his Achilles in May, on the regular season PUP list.

The Jaguars also waived cornerback Demetrius McCray, linebacker Joplo Bartu, wide receiver Shaq Evans, kicker Sam Ficken, cornerback Mike Hilton, running back Cameron Marshall, punter Ryan Quigley and wide receiver Jamal Robinson.

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Barkevious Mingo finds “culture shock” between Patriots and Browns

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 12:  Barkevious Mingo #51 of the Cleveland Browns talks with head coach Mike Pettine prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 12, 2014 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Browns might be trying to change things, but one of the guys they just jettisoned can notice an immediate difference at his new address.

Outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo, student of the game that he is, can tell some differences after joining the Patriots in trade last week when the Browns gave up on him.

It’s a huge culture shock,” Mingo said, via Adam Kurkjian of the Boston Herald. “I felt like the winning spirit was making its way into Cleveland with those new coaches, but it’s definitely been established here for a long time, and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

He’s also in familiar company. Mingo worked out this offseason with new teammate Jamie Collins, and Jabaal Sheard traced the route from Cleveland to a good team before him, which helps.

Mingo said their 2013 season together with the Browns was “gruesome,” which considering a 4-12 record might be kind.

“Jabaal was there my first year, and he carried me along in that long, long year,” he said. “But to have him again is a huge relief. . . .

“It’s very exciting. This team is stacked at every position. They have guys on the outside who can cover. We’ve got interior guys who are holding gaps and linebackers that are hitting those gaps and making big plays. I’m just excited to be a part of it.”

As with Sheard, getting into a stable environment and one — successful — scheme should help. Mingo shouldn’t have to worry about a revolving door of coaches, and they have a track record of turning unproductive players into good ones.

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Kendall Wright hurts hamstring again in return to practice

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 27:  Wide receiver Kendall Wright #13 of the Tennessee Titans is up-ended by Kevin Johnson #30 of the Houston Texans during the first half at Nissan Stadium on December 27, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) Getty Images

Titans wide receiver Kendall Wright returned to practice on Monday for the first time since injuring his hamstring on August 2, but it wasn’t long before he was back on the injured list.

Wright re-injured his hamstring while running a short pass route during what coach Mike Mularkey said was going to be a day of “limited reps” for the wideout. There’s no word on how long Wright will be out this time around, but the receiver says he plans to be back for the season opener.

“It’s not in doubt,” Wright said, via the Tennessean. “I think I’ll be able to play in it. It’s the same thing. Nothing has changed. Same thing, but it doesn’t feel as bad as it did. I think I’ll be able to go Sept. 11.”

Time will tell if Wright is correct and it’s unclear what his role will be when he is healthy enough to play. Rishard Matthews, Tajae Sharpe, Andre Johnson and others have been the receivers during the preseason and Mularkey said the team has “operated pretty well without him” this summer.

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Quinton Coples among first Rams cuts

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 04:   Quinton Coples #98 of the New York Jets looks on after the game against Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium on October 4, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images) Getty Images

Quinton Coples didn’t fulfill expectations as a 2012 first-round pick for the Jets and failed to last four full years with the team before getting cut last November.

It didn’t take the Rams nearly that long to decide that the defensive lineman wasn’t for them. Coples was one of 14 players lopped from the roster on Monday as the team moved toward Tuesday’s 75-man limit. Coach Jeff Fisher said Coples worked hard, but there still wasn’t a spot for a player they signed as a free agent this offseason.

“But out of fairness to a player like Q, I didn’t see him making the team, and that’s exactly what I told him,” Fisher said, via the team’s website. “So I wanted to give him a chance — give him an opportunity — to get out there early to see if he could find work. And if not, we’re going to keep the door open for him.”

Quarterback Dylan Thompson, wide receiver Marquez North, wide receiver David Richards, tight end Benson Browne, tight end Jake Stoneburner, running back Zach Laskey, center Brian Folkerts, offensive lineman Jordan Swindle, defensive lineman Zach Colvin, linebacker Darreon Herring, safety Michael Caputo, kicker Taylor Bertolet and long snapper Jeff Overbaugh were the other cuts.

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Peyton Manning makes Tom Brady joke during Rob Lowe roast

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 24:  Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos and Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots speak after the AFC Championship game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 24, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Patriots 20-18.  (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) Getty Images

During the long and winding road that led from the AFC title game in 2015 to the four-game suspension that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will serve this year, emails from Brady speculating about Peyton Manning retiring long before him and touching on other thoughts about the Broncos became public.

Brady apologized to Manning, who shrugged it off by saying “I’ve been roasted before and that is not roasted” before mentioning Comedy Central roasts in particular. Manning still hasn’t been the guest of (dis)honor at one, but he took part in a roast of Rob Lowe that will air on the network soon. Clips have been circulating to promote the show, including one that sees Manning quip about Brady and Deflategate while referencing Lowe’s unsuccessful attempt to break the news of Manning’s retirement in 2012.

“But, hey, I don’t worry about Rob Lowe,” Manning said. “He is a workhorse and, heck man, if they ever stop casting you on sitcoms just look on the bright side. You tried to take the air out of my retirement announcement so fast, you can probably get a job as Tom Brady’s ball boy.”

Manning, who regularly called Brady a friend when asked about the Deflategate charges, got a laugh from the crowd but might be the one sending a note of apology this time around.

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Jerry Rice says “All lives matter,” tells Kap “don’t disrespect the flag”

Jerry Rice AP

Jerry Rice is one of the most popular 49ers ever and one of the greatest players in NFL history, so his words on the Colin Kaepernick situation were bound to get plenty of attention. And when Rice weighed in on the matter on Twitter last night, he chose words that are sure to be controversial.

Rice took to Twitter and chastised Kaepernick for refusing to stand for the national anthem. Rice also seemed to chastise the Black Lives Matter movement.

“All lives matter. So much going on in this world today. Can we all just get along! Colin, I respect your stance but don’t disrespect the Flag,” Rice wrote.

Within hours, that tweet had been retweeted and liked several thousand times, and Rice was trending on Twitter. So plenty of people are paying attention.

The words “All lives matter” have become seen as a rebuke to the Black Lives Matter movement, although it’s unclear whether Rice meant it that way.

What Rice clearly meant is to criticize Kaepernick for refusing to stand. Kaepernick has received plenty of criticism from the general public, but he has received mostly support from his fellow NFL players. Rice is making clear that he doesn’t support Kaepernick’s stance.

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Former Packers tight end Colt Lyerla arrested for heroin possession

Lyerla AP

In trying to talk his way back into another NFL chance, former Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla said his “past is the past and it’s going to stay in the past.”

Except, it didn’t.

According to KOIN, Lyerla was arrested Sunday for heroin possession. He was alone in a parked car behind a gas station when police spotted him, and charged him with a felony count of possessing a controlled substance.

Lyerla was arrested for possession of cocaine during his brief but colorful career at Oregon, which also included him quitting the football team and suggesting the Sandy Hook shootings were a government conspiracy. That an NFL team would give him a chance despite all that was an indication of how talented he was in college.

He wasn’t drafted, but the Packers signed him last spring. A knee injury ended his time there, but he was lobbying for another chance after recovering without surgery. It seems unlikely anyone is going to give him one now.

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Report: Agent shift helped nudge Chargers and Joey Bosa to deal

FILE - In this June 6, 2016, file photo, San Diego Chargers rookie defensive end Joey Bosa trains during an NFL football practice, in San Diego. The Chargers say they've signed Bosa to a four-year contract. The announcement Monday, Aug. 29, 2016, came five days after the two sides went public in their nasty spat over payment of Bosa's $17 million signing bonus and whether the contract would have offset language.(AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File) AP

If the Chargers hoped to rattle Joey Bosa with last week’s press release outlining how good of a deal it was that he wasn’t taking, it may have worked.

At the very least, it caused his side to make a subtle change.

According to Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Bosa negotiations resumed after the team’s press release last week, with Bosa shifting the negotiations from one of his co-representatives to the other (in this case, from CAA’s Brian Ayrault to CAA’s Todd France). While that’s easy to portray as a “good cop/bad cop” situation, the reality is both agents were already working for Bosa.

Chargers CFO John Spanos said the offer would only go down, but they were able to reach a compromise yesterday.

“I prefer to keep the details quiet, but I would like to thank Todd France for his professionalism and his help in getting this deal done,” Spanos said.

(All that quote needed was a “no disrespect to Brian Ayrault, but, …” as the Chargers continue to impress with their public relations savvy.)

With that out of the way, Bosa has to worry about his crash course in football to get ready for the opener, as he hasn’t been around the team since June and has two weeks to catch up. He’s done what he could to stay in condition, saying he wasn’t taking it easy in Florida.

“I didn’t think it was fair to the guys out here if I was enjoying time off, partying, doing this, that or the other while they were working,” Bosa said. “I thought I owed it to them and myself to really give it everything I had. . . . I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in my life.”

He also sort-of apologized for his mom saying she regretted not “pulling an Eli Manning,” in a Facebook post, alluding to the quarterback’s successful effort to get traded by the Chargers in 2004.

“What do you expect a mom to do?” Bosa said. “She loves me. She wants what’s best for me, and she made a dumb decision like I have before, saying something I shouldn’t have on social media. She honestly had no idea it was public; she thought she was sending it to someone else. . . . She’s happy I’m here, and I would never turn down an opportunity to be in this situation.”

And after such a long and needlessly awkward situation, the Chargers are too.

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Former Browns linebacker Paul Kruger visiting Saints, Chiefs

Kruger AP

The Saints, in their perpetual effort to fix a defense that lacks playmakers, are getting the first crack at former Browns pass-rusher Paul Kruger.

According to Mike Triplett of ESPN.com, Kruger will visit the Saints today, amid interest from other teams (including, almost certainly, the #MysteryTeam).

The Chiefs would be next on his quick free agency tour, if the Saints let him out of the building.

The Saints tried to sign Kruger in 2013, before the Browns blew him away with a five-year, $40.5 million deal. He’d add some legitimacy to a pass-rush which Saints coach Sean Payton has already labeled “very concerning,” after their last preseason game.

Kruger had just 2.5 sacks last year, but topped out with 11.0 for the Browns in 2014, and he had 9.0 for the Ravens during his salary push in 2012.

But the Saints can’t exactly be picking. It was an area of need anyway, but when 2015 second-rounder Hau’oli Kikaha blew out his knee this summer it became worse.

The Saints also traded for Dolphins backup pass-rusher Chris McCain, evidence they’re going to look under every rock.

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Report: Seahawks to waive seventh-round RB Zac Brooks

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 25:  Running back Zac Brooks #30 of the Seattle Seahawks rushes against the Dallas Cowboys during the preseason game at CenturyLink Field on August 25, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Seahawks are slowly working their way toward the 75-man roster maximum upcoming on Tuesday afternoon.

According to Sheil Kapadia of ESPN.com, the Seahawks are set to waive running back Zac Brooks.

Brooks was a seventh-round pick out of Clemson in May. He was the third of three running backs Seattle selected in the draft.

Brooks always had an uphill battle for a roster spot. The re-emergence of Christine Michael has added a somewhat unexpected wrinkle to the group as well as Michael appears set to make the roster and contribute alongside Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise this season. Brooks suffered a hamstring injury a week into camp that kept him from making a significant push for a roster spot.

Brooks carried six times for 17 yards and caught one pass for 4 yards in two preseason games with Seattle.

The Seahawks made six moves official on Monday. Seattle released Brandon Browner, placed Sealver Siliga on injured reserve, waived/injured receiver Deshon Foxx and waived defensive end DeAngelo Tyson, wide receiver Montario Hunter and linebacker/fullback Kyle Coleman.

Guard Kristjan Sokoli is also expected to be released and the team is trying to trade center Patrick Lewis, which will likely result in his release if unable to do so.

That would leave Seattle with six more moves to make before the 4 p.m. ET deadline on Tuesday.

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Report: Tim Tebow offered contract with Venezuelan Winter League team

Tim Tebow AP

Former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow is working out for supposedly more than 20 Major League Baseball teams on Tuesday in an attempt to become a professional baseball player.

Regardless of the outcome of that showcase, Tebow already has a professional baseball contract offer.

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, Tebow has been extended a contract by Aguilas del Zulia of the Venezuelan winter-ball league.

“He’s a great talent,” Aguilas general manager Luis Amaro said. “He’s an athlete. He’s won the Heisman. He’s won two national championships. I know baseball is a hard game, but he’ll either adjust and show he’s ready to play pro ball or not. I think it’s low risk, high reward for Zulia.”

Winter ball provides a decent level of competition should Tebow accept the offer to join Aguilas del Zulia. Many young MLB players and players recovering from injuries head to Venezuela to play in the league to continue their development or get live game action to supplement the rehab process.

It would be a decent chance for Tebow to get a start should MLB teams initially pass on offering him a minor league deal.

It’s a long shot for Tebow, but he’s at least getting interest and a chance to chase a career change.

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Richard Sherman understands Kaepernick’s message, questions the platform

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 13: Cornerback Richard Sherman #25 of the Seattle Seahawks lines up against the Baltimore Ravens in the first half at M&T Bank Stadium on December 13, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

Plenty of people who have reacted to the decision of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to refuse to stand for the national anthem due to his belief that African-Americans and people of color are oppressed in this country by embracing the message but questioning the method. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman took that position in remarks to reporters on Monday.

“Obviously, what he meant to do was in a good place,” Sherman said, via comments distributed by the team. “He wanted to make a stand, anytime you don’t stand during the national anthem people are going to criticize it. That’s the unfortunate part of it, you can’t ever stand against the flag and things like that, a lot of people sacrifice and things like that for it, but there is also a deeper meaning to what he did.

“He’s talking about the oppression of African-Americans in this country and that has been going on for a long time and I think a lot of the focus has shifted away from his message, and for some people rightfully so, to him taking a stand against the nation, etc, etc. I think there’s also things about this nation that people need to remember and take heed of and also acknowledge. This country is also the same country that had whites and colored signs on the bathroom. We’re still in that country, we’re still in that nation, and that need to be acknowledged and that needs to be changed.

“There’s people with that mentality that still exist, and that needs to change. There are still people that treat people of color with subjectivity, they treat them a certain way, they categorize them. They put them in a category, in certain statistics that are put out there to make sure that police profile certain people in certain neighborhoods, and that needs to change. There is some depth and some truth into what he was doing. I think he could have picked a better platform and a better way to do it but every day they say athletes are so robotic and do everything by the book, then when somebody takes a stand like that, he gets his head chopped off.”

Sherman then pointed out that society at large could learn from the color blindness that occurs naturally in competitive sports.

“When you play football you’re not concerned about whether you’re throwing to a black guy or a white guy or orange guy or Asian guy,” Sherman said. “You’re concerned about getting the ball there, executing your job, winning. You’re concerned about playing for the next guy, playing for your brother. I think that’s something the nation can take from sports. The Olympics was also a great example of how different countries — everybody comes together. Nobody’s sitting there saying I’m not going to run against this guy because he’s black, white, orange, blue. They’re running to compete for their nation to win. They don’t care what color the people on their team are. They’re supporting them. They’re supporting their country and that’s how it should be all the time regardless of circumstance. I think it’ll be a long time before we get there but hopefully we’re trending in that way.”

Hopefully we are. In the grand scheme of things. open and blatant racism happened routinely not that many years ago. Changes have been made, but plenty of changes still need to occur. And while Kaepernick’s decision not to stand for the national anthem will be criticized, his actions have spurred thought and discussion and reflection about where we are as a people, where we’ve come from, and where we need to go. Our ability to discuss and debate those topics in a frank and civilized manner arguably is reason enough to stand in honor of a flag that gives all citizens of the nation the freedom to react to Kaepernick’s words and actions, to form their own opinions, to express them freely and openly, and possibly to emerge with a better understanding of each other’s positions.

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