During a Tuesday press conference that produced many thoughtful and intelligent observations from Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin, Baldwin raised a point that often gets lost in the anger that gets directed to players who don’t stand silently at attention during the national anthem: Plenty of the fans chastising players who choose not to stand at attention also are failing to stand at attention.
“[Michael Bennett] is taking a reasonable and peaceful approach to something that I, I mean, I don’t know who doesn’t think is valiantly important to our society and the health and wellness of our communities, but yet we’re not talking about people who are in the stands drunk during the national anthem with their hats still on, yelling at players, cussing during the National Anthem,” Baldwin said. “We’re not talking about that. . . . I know you guys are reporters and you’ve got to make a story about something but I just think we’re taking it too far.”
Baldwin is raising a good point. Are the fans who are offended by the conscious decision of players like Bennett and Colin Kaepernick to not stand during the anthem in order to send a message regarding a specific cause standing still and silent, hats off and hands on hearts, during the playing of the anthem? I’ve been to plenty of college and pro football games over the years and but for the initial games after 9/11 the national anthem routinely includes people walking up and down stairs, meandering throughout the concourse, wearing hats, raising hell, and otherwise not pausing with the appropriate posture to honor the flag the way players are expected to.
At least guys like Bennett have a reason for doing what they do. For too many fans, there’s a nonchalance during the playing of the anthem. Which one is worse?
Bennett isn’t the only one who sat during the anthem this weekend. Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch sat, too. But no one really knows why.
“You are going to have to ask Marshawn,” Baldwin said after acknowledging he has spoken to Lynch since Saturday’s game.
Baldwin said he has thought about joining Bennett on the bench during the anthem.
“We are going to have a conversation here shortly and again, we try to do things as a team and as a family,” Baldwin said. “We will see how we can support Mike in this situation. . . . We operate as a family. We support our guys in whatever they want to do, whatever endeavors they set out to accomplish or achieve. And Mike has always been one of those leaders in our locker room. We trust him. Again, he is a highly highly intelligent individual who didn’t just make a decision off the cuff. This is a decision, I know that knowing Mike, he has taken a lot of time and pride in making. So as a family within this organization we fully support what he has done.”
Given recent events in Charlottesville, the political reaction thereto, and the reaction to the political reaction, these issues aren’t going away. And if fans are going to chastise players for not standing during the anthem, it’s only fair to be on the lookout for fans who aren’t showing the flag the proper respect, either.