The NFL season kicks off on September 8th with a game between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers, but the biggest story leading up to the defending champs playing against their Super Bowl 50 rivals in a rematch doesn’t have anything to do with either of those teams. It’s Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers and his protesting “a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” And now the quarterback has company in Philadelphia Eagles rookie linebacker Myke Tavarres who says that he will also sit for the national anthem.
“In this situation, I’ve really got nothing to lose,” Tavarres told ESPN. “I’m a rookie free agent, haven’t signed any major contract, so there’s not a lot of money on the line, I don’t have any big endorsement deals on the line. Really what’s at stake is my pride and what kind of man would I be and what kind of African-American would I be if I didn’t stand my ground on this issue we have today?”
Tavarres has plenty on the line. An undrafted rookie out of Incarnate Word, he made the first round of cuts that trimmed the team’s roster to 74 players, but with the final rosters of 53 due on September 5th, some would say that a rookie trying to break into the league’s best bet would be show up and just play his hardest in hopes of making the team. To his credit, Tavarres sees something bigger than a career in the NFL, something you’d be hard-pressed to find with somebody chasing down their dream of being a professional athlete. “We’ve got an issue in this country in this day and age, and I feel like somebody needs to step up and we all need to step up,” he said.
Tavarres also said that, prior to speaking to the press, a few people, but not his coaches, were aware of his decision, and he’s aware of possible consequences. “Will there be backlash? Probably. I don’t think anyone has bought my jersey yet, so I don’t know if it’s going to be burned, but it’s a major issue and I’m definitely going to stand my ground for this one.”