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Local Sports

Not all NFL players deserve a bad rap

While celebrating my daughter’s fifth birthday at a party for my side of the family on Sunday afternoon, I checked in with my favorite NFL team. I had to see how the debut of Jimmy Garappolo was going.

I can’t disconnect from sports. It’s hard for me.

The problem, and the basis of this column, happened when I began to talk about the NFL in general.

The subject of kneeling came up. My brother served in the United States Air Force for more than 10 years. We have never openly discussed the kneeling phenomenon that is happening in the NFL.

I don’t even know if he realizes that the kneeling has nothing to do with the military.

For those that see the kneeling, most can’t get past the opinion of the disrespect it has for our country.

I am not going to make this a column about my political stance on this issue. Instead, I want to tell anyone reading this what NFL players are doing positively in this world.

It’s not all negative. It’s not all kneeling. And a conversation about the NFL doesn’t have always end with, “well, they’ll just kneel and disrespect our flag anyway” or “they are a bunch spoiled rotten babies.”

Some of that may be true. But let’s discuss what is going on that’s positive.

Colin Kaepernick started the kneeling phase because he felt like his race was being oppressed on a daily basis. The kneeling probably cost him a job in the NFL. He is still unsigned, right or wrong.

Kaepernick though is doing much more than kneeling before a football game. He put his money where his mouth was and has donated more than $1 million to several different charities with the hope of creating a social change in America.

Others in the NFL have followed Kaepernick’s kneeling lead.

After he first kneeled for the anthem on Sept. 8, 2016, Denver Broncos defensive back Brandon Marshall met with Denver police chief Robert White in what began an ongoing dialogue between urban communities around Denver and the local police. He also pledged to donate $300 for every tackle last season to local organizations committed to addressing “critical social issues.”

If you are a Chicago Bears fan, you may know that Jordan Howard is involved in the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation and that Sam Acho and his family take part in missionary work in Nigeria.

Carolina Panther Charles Johnson does a lot of work in the community that you may not know about.

One of Johnson’s biggest areas of service has been providing college scholarships to high school students at his alma mater.

Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy is active in his community through his foundation Shades of Greatness, Inc. He assists people and families suffering from ALS.

The New York Jets have taken on a number of initiatives to stop bullying and will present a $100,000 check this Sunday to the STOMP Out Bullying Organization.

Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long is donating his first six game checks of the 2017 NFL season to fund scholarships in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia.

Most of you already know that J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans has raised more than $37 million for Hurricane Harvey relief through an online donation website

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston also has helped with hurricane relief efforts, helping distribute food and donated gift cards to more than 400 families affected by the hurricane. Each family received 35 pounds of food as part of the Food for Florida Disaster Food Assistance Program.

This is just a short list of the good that is being done by NFL players. They aren’t all bad. And they aren’t all kneeling for our National Anthem.

Contact Troy Hyde
at thyde@newtondailynews.com

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