Back off our Delanie

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Back off our Delanie
Delanie Walker being introduced to the crowd at Nissan Stadium. Photo courtesy of USAToday.

Back off “our” Delanie

Well, I was trying to avoid writing about the national anthem stuff, but apparently I must. This is my opinion and not necessarily that of Cover32 or Yahoo.

During a speech at the United States Air Force Academy, Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria said, “The appropriate response … for a horrible idea is a better idea.”

I don’t think Colin Kaepernick had a good idea when he sat during the national anthem.

Former Green Beret, and former Seattle Seahawks long snapper, Nate Boyer met with Kaepernick. (What follows is an excerpt from CBSSports)

“We sorta came to a middle ground where he would take a knee alongside his teammates,” Boyer says. “Soldiers take a knee in front of a fallen brother’s grave, you know, to show respect. When we’re on a patrol, you know, and we go into a security halt, we take a knee, and we pull security.”

Asked by Gumbel if Kap was “receptive” to his ideas, Boyer described him as “very receptive.”

“Very receptive. He said, ‘I think that would be– I think– I think that would be really powerful,'” Boyer recalls. “And, you know, he asked me to do it with him. And I said, ‘Look, I’ll stand next to you. I gotta stand though. I gotta stand with my hand on my heart. That’s just– that’s just what I do and where I’m from.'”

When Kaepernick changed his protest to be down on his knee, that changed it some for me. I am, generally, OK with a respectful peaceful protest. That’s an American exercising their freedom of expression.

What I couldn’t relate to and I still have an issue with is this- Any NFL player can call, email, text, or tweet a TV Station or newspaper and hold a press conference.  I was raised to believe that bringing any attention away from the flag (usually due to misbehavior) is disrespectful to your country. Why didn’t he just call a press conference and air his views then?

Kaepernick didn’t call me (who am I?) to see what I thought he should do. He did what he thought best. That’s also his choice, not mine.

I don’t like “my time” being interrupted. It’s not just Kaepernick, but picketers in the street, “holy rollers” waving signs, loud parades, and public chants all annoy me. I want my routine. I want to go to the store or go to work and have it be a typical experience. I’m not “anti-anything” except getting to work late.

Most people voicing public displeasure do so at times when they will get enough attention. They need people to listen and possibly people to join their cause.

As you can see, those voicing displeasure and I have a fundamental problem here.

So what’s the solution?

Let’s go back to the initial quote, “The appropriate response … for a horrible idea is a better idea. ” I’m not saying either idea is horrible, but let’s stick with this logic. A better idea here is respect and perspective.

Kaepernick respected the public outcry and the pleas from a Green Beret and he began to kneel. That was his better idea. For me, the better idea is to respect Kaepernick’s right to express himself and realize that he needs a public forum in order to get people to support his cause.

As you know, other NFL players began to kneel. They had their own protests or issues that they were kneeling for. All of this mushroomed into 2017, which brought many more kneelers than in 2016.

I became “good with it” when Kaepernick was doing it. Not happy, but I understood that I should respect his freedom of expression. His life in America is probably nothing like mine, so our viewpoints are probably largely different. The 2017 NFL protesters just brought more of the same feelings. I can respect their freedoms just as well as I can respect Kaepernick’s.

Last Saturday, Donald Trump spoke. The President of the United States explained how some NFL players should be fired for not standing at attention during the national anthem. All I thought then was a selfish thought- “hey that’s how I was brought up too.”

Last Sunday, NFL teams showed their displeasure by “taking a page out of Kaepernick’s book.” Many teams had players kneel during the national anthem. Some players were locked arm-in-arm with other players and/or coaches and/or owners. They were offering a protest with a bonus display of solidarity.

Did I agree with it? No, I just wanted to watch the game. Then I go on twitter looking for football updates and every football reporter is sharing thoughts and pictures of these protests. My routine was interrupted again. Again though, I respected their right to express themselves.

Again- Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria said, “The appropriate response … for a horrible idea is a better idea.”

On September 10, the Cleveland Browns played a video about unity while they were side by side with police officers, members of the US military, and firefighters. Members of the USO held a large flag on the field during the anthem. Browns players did kneel. They were also arm in arm, showing solidarity or brotherhood. Here is an image from last week’s game:

All of that is certainly a better idea. I love our military, our police, our fire department, and our football players. For them to be arm-n-arm, it was a nice visual.

Is it proper? I don’t know. If the military, police, and fire department were supportive of it, I assume so. It’s like above; if a Green Beret is alright with Kaepernick taking a knee, I ought to be.

Some teams didn’t go onto the field. The Titans were one of them. The Titans had some members of the 101st Airborne present for the game. During the national anthem, some members of the Marines held a large American flag.

Essentially, the Titans were trying to be impartial; trying to not take a side here.

Remember learning about the Revolutionary War in school. The USA fighting for its independence from the rule of the Queen? Last weekend, the Jaguars played the Ravens in London. Many NFL players knelt during the US national anthem, but yet stood at attention during the UK’s anthem, “God Save the Queen.”

Isn’t that ironic? You would think that would be the major twist this week, but nope. The big news involved the Titans.

Titans tight end Delanie Walker suddenly took center stage on this issue.

The Titans have a wonderful relationship with the military. The Titans trained this past offseason with the 101st Airborne and developed a connection between the soldiers and the players. The Titans visited their base and the soldiers visited the Titans. They each did the other’s workout routine. This wonderful relationship even grew another offshoot where the players’ wives and female Titans staff went to workout with some soldiers. When the Titans are running charity events, sometimes the soldiers are there to help too. Delanie Walker went on a tour with the USO to meet soldiers during this past offseason. He brought some joy and support to them during their grueling tours fighting for our freedoms. The Titans relationship with the military is wonderful.

Titans fans challenged their favorite players by saying they would not attend games. The Titans organizing to have the Marines present seems to have been ignored. Their history with the 101st also seems to have been ignored. Most of the rants stated that the Titans were disrespecting the military by staying in the locker room.

In a virtual response, Walker said this to an interviewer this past week:

“First off, I’m going to say this: We’re not disrespecting the military, the men, and women who served. That’s not what it’s all about. If you look at most of the guys in here; I’ve been to the USO. I support our troops. It’s not about that. It’s about equal rights and everyone is trying to show that we all care about each other. And the fans that don’t want to come to the games, OK, bye. I mean if you feel that’s something where we’re disrespecting you, don’t come to the games. You don’t have to. No one is telling you to come to the game. It’s your freedom and your choice to do that.”

Later this week, Walker and his family’s lives were threatened.

Walker is a super generous soul and a real fun interview to listen to. He is often in the public eye using his Tuesday off to do some good for others. There was one story shared recently about Walker helping to raise money for cancer research and to help a sweet little girl that has cancer. He was present for the Turkey drives around Thanksgiving. He is often charitable. Walker is a good man.

The context of the threat was not released. By definition, a threat is a harmful act of retribution.

This is not where we want to be as Titans fans.

We, as Americans, do not want to be in a position where we harm those that aren’t present for the national anthem. It wasn’t even mandatory for NFL players to be present for the national anthem until 2009.

I am going to “butcher” Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria’s speech below. The … inside quotes is me skipping some parts. He was speaking of a racist incident at the United States Airforce Academy. What he said though rings true for me. I am going to use his words as my message to Titans fans and specifically anyone threatening Delanie or any other Titans:

“If you’re outraged, then you’re in the right place. That kind of behavior has no place You should be outraged. … I would be naive, and we all would be naive, to think that everything is perfect here. We would be naive to think that we shouldn’t discuss this topic. We would also be tone-deaf not to think about the backdrop of what’s going on in our country. Things like Charlottesville and Ferguson, the protests in the NFL. That’s why we have a better idea. ….It’s about our diversity and it’s about the power of our diversity. The power of the 4000 of you (USAFA students) …the power of us as a diverse group. The power that we come from all walks of life. That we come from all parts of this country. That we come from all races. We come from all backgrounds, gender, all makeup, all upbringing. The power of that diversity comes together and makes us that much more powerful. That’s a much better idea than small thinking and horrible ideas. We have an opportunity here to think about what we are… no one can take away our values. No one can write on a board and question our values. No one can take that away from us. So just in case you’re unclear on where I stand on this topic, I’m going to leave you with my most important thought today. If you can’t treat someone with dignity and respect, then you need to get out. If you can’t treat someone from another gender, whether that’s a man or a woman, with dignity and respect, then you need to get out. If you need to demean someone in any way, then you need to get out. And if you can’t treat someone from another race or with different colored skin with dignity and respect, then you need to get out. …So that we all have the moral courage together,… this is our institution. If you need this, then use my words. Talk about this. Share this. If you can’t treat someone with dignity and respect, then get out.”

Us Titans fans have always had a more the merrier mindset. We welcome new fans every year. Recently, we welcomed millions of new fans that used to be fans of the St. Louis Rams. This is not that. Threats cross a line from rational discussion to become irrational behavior. So to all the millions of Titans fans, I say, “Titan Up!” To those few that are threatening Delanie and his family, “Get out!” We don’t want you in our fan-base. Get out!

He is the favorite player of many of us. He is OUR Delanie.

To those upset and still rational? Let’s discuss it. The presence and involvement of the military surely “throws a monkey wrench” at theories that the Titans are disrespecting the flag and consequently the military. Let’s discuss respecting people’s freedom of expression and the flag. It’s challenging to discuss them both at the same time.

Please let me leave you with this quote by Deepak Chopra:

“A belief is a thought that’s true for you.” 

He did not say, “true for everyone.”

I love you Titans fans, thank you for your support.

 


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