“Do it again, and you’re not getting in the game.” Those are words from former NFL head coach and former Furman football player Sam Wyche.
Wyche served as the head coach for the Cincinnati Bengals and has played a role in several NFL teams.
The debate over players standing or kneeling during the national anthem is causing an uproar from many across the nation. President Donald Trump has called for NFL players to be fired if they do not stand during the national anthem. Monday night, the Dallas Cowboys and its owner locked arms and knelt before the anthem and stood up as the song began. President Trump took to Twitter after the game, saying “Ratings for NFL football are way down except before game starts, when people tune in to see whether or not our country will be disrespected!”
Many NFL players have joined the peaceful protest Colin Kaepernick started more than 13 months ago. Players said the protest is highlighting police brutality and racism in the United States. The White House said this is not about race, but disrespect to the flag and the servicemen and women. Sam Wyche said he agrees with the president, explaining the type of demonstration is not the time or place during the games.
“Say it’s Kaepernick, I would sit him down and say you’ve got one more chance. The one thing you don’t do is disrespect all of the people that have fought, died, all of the families that are suffering because they’re supporting the United States,” Wyche said. “Here’s the part that bothers me the most, I am now seeing high school kids do the same thing, before a high school game, right now, today, because they want to be like those pros.”
Players and coaches from all levels are talking about this debate, and even though his team was in the tunnel for the anthem, USC head coach Will Muschamp weighed in Tuesday.
“Standing up for what you believe in, to me, is freedom of speech, and that’s a right that every American citizen has, don’t have to agree,” Muschamp said. “It doesn’t make someone right. It doesn’t make someone else wrong. But certainly, standing up for what you believe in is extremely important to me, and I addressed that with our players.”
It’s a debate the nation and NFL players can’t seem to see eye to eye on, however, Wyche said he knows where he stands and what he would do if he were still on the sidelines.
“If you do it again, we’ll work your tail off but you’re not going to get in the game. and if it happens again, I’ll have your agent call me because we’ll get rid of you,” Wyche said.
Panthers owner against “politicizing the game”
During Sunday’s NFL game, the Panthers players all stood during the national anthem with the exception of Julius Peppers, who waited in the locker room until the anthem was over. On Tuesday, Panthers owner Jerry Richardson issued a statement saying in part quote: “politicizing the game is damaging and takes the focus off the greatness of the game itself and those who play it.”
Following that statement, Director of Communications Steven Drummond released the following message:
“Mr. Richardson invited captains and other team leaders to his home this [Tuesday] afternoon, as he often does. They discussed social issues affecting the League and solutions moving forward. As always, the conversations between Mr. Richardson and the players will remain private.”
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