Many people have asked my opinion on the decision of a few players on the St. Louis Rams to raise their hands as they took the field Sunday in a show of solidarity with Ferguson protesters, so here it goes. Bear with me.
It really isn’t that big of a deal. It was five players out of the fifty-three man roster, less than ten percent. None of the fifteen or so coaches participated. So, out of about seventy people that came through the tunnel, about seven percent of the team joined in on this nonsense. If we, the police, are so quick to condemn the manner in which the actions of a few being used to reflect on the whole, how can we do the same? The St. Louis Rams are not an anti-cop organization. They have a few ignorant employees. We’ve all got them.
About 68% of the St. Louis Rams players are black, according to The Unofficial 2014 NFL Player Census. St. Louis, which is pretty close to Ferguson, is the team’s city. I don’t have any numbers on it, but the application of common sense indicates that a large percentage of players come from large urban populations. The fact that only seven percent of the players on the team participated is actually encouraging to me.
Now, on to the NFL’s decision not to discipline the players over the gesture. The NFL is in a tough spot on this one. It really is a no-win situation for them. Their best bet is to let it blow over. Disciplining the players would lead to more stories, more reporters asking about it, and more sound bites played on a loop on SportsCenter and other media outlets. The more the media-driven outrage from both sides of the issue, the more negative attention that would be drawn to the NFL. The voice of the police there is much less pronounced than that of the players. The NFL is a business. Not disciplining the players is a smart business decision.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the players are ignorant, uninformed fools for engaging in the protest. I’m all for fans burning their jerseys, trolling their Twitter feeds, and voicing their displeasure. After all, freedom of speech does not equal freedom from consequence. Some NFL players are quality people, men that would have contributed greatly to society without their football talent. Some are not. It is what it is.