All of the Giants stood at attention on the sideline for the national anthem during the first two games of the season. That may be about to change.
In a response to the fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man, by Tulsa, Oklahoma, police Friday night, a handful of Giants told Newsday that they may consider some form of protest to raise further awareness over the use of lethal force against minorities by police.
“As of right now we’re not doing anything different, but that could change,” linebacker Keenan Robinson said. “We are guys who have a voice, and we understand our voice is seen and heard across the world.”
“Will it? Can it?” running back Rashad Jennings said when asked if the recent news will sway Giants players to act. “It very well can.”
Jennings said he has been involved on a text thread with about 85 players around the NFL that discusses such topics. He also said he’s had several conversations with 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started the movement of sitting or kneeling during the anthem to protest police violence.
“Remove football for a minute, and this is life,” Jennings said. “These are real issues that people are dealing with on a daily basis that are blinded by a lot of entertainment. And we’re a part of who we are entertaining. We’re football players. It’s Sunday, people think ‘What are they doing? What’s my fantasy points look like?’ In reality, people are dying.”
Jennings did not say whether he will continue to stand, but he is clearly putting thought into the decision.
“Privileged people need to defend and actually voice out, not the oppressed,” Jennings said. “That’s just complaining. The people who are privileged need to voice it themselves and say: ‘This isn’t right.’ That’s what Kaep’s doing, that’s what a lot of people are doing. That’s what my whole conversation with Kaep was about, understanding where he’s coming from. And I support that 100 percent.”
Jennings pointed out, as others have, that violent white criminals, such as the shooter in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, have been arrested without being shot by police.
“And you have this guy, his car broke down and he gets shot?” Jennings asked. “You do the math. Somebody tell me. Help me (understand).”
“It’s unfortunate and it shouldn’t be happening,” defensive tackle Jay Bromley said. “We see people get taken into custody all the time for worse crimes and we see people die, somebody loses their father, they lose a husband, they lose a brother or uncle, for no apparent reason when it seems like it should have been handled way better.”
Ben McAdoo said last month that he would be “disappointed” if one of his players did not stand for the anthem.
“We consider it a small gesture to those who served and sacrificed their lives for our country and for us to play and coach in this great game,” he said. “It’s their choice. It’s not mandatory, but we feel it’s important.”
Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, a former Army Ranger and graduate of West Point, spoke to the team about why he believes that standing is important.
“The major point was just touching on my experiences and how much it means to the men and women in uniform to know that their heroes, the professional football players, are going to take those couple of minutes,” Sullivan said.
The Giants players have not had any formal discussions about what they will do this week. Tuesday was their first day together as a team after Sunday’s game, and the news from Tulsa had not yet sparked a teamwide conversation. In the coming days, though, it seems likely to.
“A couple of the guys on the team have talked about it (in the past),” Robinson said. “We want to do it appropriately and effectively if we do it. We don’t want to do it in a dishonorable manner or a disrespectful way. We want to make sure our point gets across if we do do it. That’s what a couple of guys have talked about. We don’t want to do it just to be doing it. If we’re going to do it, people need to know why we’re doing it and that needs to not be taken lightly.”
Offensive lineman Marshall Newhouse said each member of the team has the right to stand or kneel or otherwise demonstrate during the anthem. “Guys are their own men, so I’m not going to say whether someone will or won’t,” he said.
Asked if the Crutcher shooting will alter that decision, Newhouse said: “It might tip some guys, but if you’ve been paying attention, this is unfortunately not new.”
Bromley said: “Personally, when I stand for the flag it’s not about standing for what they’re doing to black people or minority people, it’s about standing for the people who fight for the right. There are a lot of people who are African-American or Mexican or whatever who stand and fight for the right reasons. There are many who fight for the wrong reasons, but it’s not about you. I support the right people
“ . . . It shouldn’t be an opinionated thing. It should be right versus wrong. It’s wrong for a person to lose their life for no reason. That’s what the big picture is.”
Jennings said that earlier in the season, during discussions over his decision to stand, he contemplated this very possibility.
“I brought this up two weeks ago: With the world we live in, if there is another occurrence of a situation like this, there’s going to be more people that join,” Jennings said. “And here we go.”