[F]reedom of Expression

By Mike Cullen

*Written 8/18/17*

A cursory glance at the first image tells a story told time and again over the past year; division, controversy, injustice, and strife. I was prepared to file the image under the region of my hippocampus dedicated to ‘anthem protests’ and the associated emotions when something became apparent…

If you look between Chris Long(96) and Malcolm Jenkins(27) you can see something that, no matter how minute it may seem, is a tremendously powerful gesture that transcends the painted white lines on which they stand…

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A football field is not Charlottesville. Sports are not the political and social arenas in which the battles of justice vs. injustice are fought on a daily basis.

But in 2017, professional athletes have more of a voice than Joe Citizen, and are in a way EXPECTED to have a stance, to choose a side.

This image is monumentally powerful to me, because it shows that you don’t have to choose a side in order to do what is right.

I have always loved football because when you throw on those pads and button your lid, it doesn’t matter what ethnicity you are or where you come from. I have played with people from all walks of life, be it skin color, socioeconomic background, or religion; All of that goes out the window when you step on the field. The bond forged is about as close as you can get to brotherhood without sharing genes.

Yesterday, the only color that mattered between these two men was the color of their jersey. Their opinion of the national anthem was inconsequential in the face of the fact that they stood TOGETHER, as brothers, regardless of their stance.

It’s undeniable that our nation is hurting. Change is needed, and the example has to be set by those in a position of influence. With all the ‘lines in the sand’ being drawn, I think yesterday was a moment where we can take a cue from the game defined by advancing between the lines.

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