BY Art Thiel 07:55PM 09/07/2016

More Seahawks players consider anthem protest

Doug Baldwin and Bobby Wagner said Seahawks players have had discussions about a potential protest on opening day, which coincides with the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Doug Baldwin (89) said he and teammate are considering an anthem gesture ahead of the season opener at the Clink. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

RENTON — A couple of  Seahawks players sounded as if Sunday will include more drama than merely the start of the 2016 season, for which they are among the favorites for another Super Bowl appearance. On Sept. 11, they may join teammate CB Jeremy Lane, who made a protest statement during the national anthem in Oakland.

“I have (considered it),” WR Doug Baldwin said Wednesday. “I want to make sure I get all of my ducks in a row before I do so.’’

Teammate LB Bobby Wagner said he didn’t know if he would sit down during the anthem, but he suggested something was up.

“Whatever we decide to do,” he said, “it will be a big surprise.”

Which could be nothing. But Wagner indicated they didn’t think Lane was going to be left on his own.

“Anything we want to do, it’s not going to be individual,” he said. “It’s going to be a team thing. That’s what the world needs to see. The world needs to see people coming together versus being individuals.”

Said Baldwin: “Our locker room has discussed it. So we’ll see.”

The Seahawks under coach Pete Carroll have been more tolerant than perhaps any NFL club regarding players’ desires for independent thinking and speaking. After Lane’s gesture, Carroll talked with him about it.

“He’s pretty clear about what he did and what he is trying to express,” Carroll said Wednesday. “I think it’s very simple. We’ll leave that up to him. He’s understanding the responsibility of it and shouldering it.”

A week ago at the Seahawks’ final preseason game, Lane sat quietly during the anthem. Afterward, he said he was showing solidarity with San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick, who sat during an anthem to protest oppression of minorities and social injustice. Before another game Friday, Kaepernick was joined in protest by teammate Eric Reid.

Lane told reporters Monday he planned to continue his protest.

“Just standing behind (Kaepernick) what he said,” Lane said. “Just piggybacking what he said, for the justice.”

Baldwin posted a series of tweets Friday in support of the notion of protest. He wrote: “We honor those who fight for our right to freedom of speech and then condemn those who exercise that right?”

Baldwin said among the social-media respondents were numerous veterans who supported Kaepernick’s gesture.

“That’s more heartening to me than anything,” he said. “The veterans that have reached out and said that’s what they fought for, that’s what they sacrificed their lives for, is to give people back home under the flag, under this country, the opportunity to stand up or sit for what they believe in.”

Baldwin said he’s spoken with Kaepernick. They have a mutual friend in retired Seahawk Ricardo Lockette.

Wagner said any players’ decision will be independent of the club and coaches, and was confident that no conflict would emerge if players disagreed.

“We have a very special group of guys in here,” he said. “I think that’s probably not going to be seen until way, way down the line. But the group of guys that are in here are second to none. You’ll never see another team like this ever again, whenever it’s done.”

Said Baldwin: “It’s different in our locker room. We kind of give each other a lot of slack, so whatever decisions you make, we understand we are all human beings. Some of us might not agree, some of us will agree.”

Responding to a question, Baldwin said all were aware that the game is on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

“I think that anybody should be thinking about that,” he said. “Even if it wasn’t Sept. 11, the point of the protest is to get people to think. I think it’s very ironic to me that 15 years ago on Sept. 11 was one of the most devastating times in U.S. history, and after that day we were probably the most unified that we have ever been.

“And today we struggle to see the unity. It’s going to be a special day, a very significant day. But at the same time, I’m looking forward to the better changes we can make in our country.”

Carroll said the calendar coincidence was not a factor in his approach to a protest.

“Not specifically to that,” he said. “We have a concern that this date is coming up just because we are Americans and it’s an important day.”

Wagner said the discussion is far more an inspiration than a distraction.

“I enjoy having conversations because we’re fortunate enough to have black people, white people, all type of people in this locker room,” he said. ”You get to see different backgrounds, different journeys. I think that’s what separates the NFL — they’re so many different cultures in here that you get to learn from.

“We don’t live in a box. We understand that there’s different type of views, different type of actions, and we have an open mind to listen to them.”

As to whether he would engage in the same sit-down protest, he said, “As far as sitting down, me personally, I don’t know if I would do that. I support Kap and what he’s doing. I think sometimes everybody takes the message wrong.

“There’s a lot of stuff that’s going on, a lot of bad stuff that’s going on that needs to be fixed. At some point you have to do whatever you need to do to get that fixed. I think what (Kaepernick) has done is opened up that conversation and made people talk about it.”

The Seahawks have a league-wide reputation for being out front on many things. No reason to stop now that it’s getting important.


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YourThoughts

  • MrPrimeMinister

    Well hawk fans, 6 points for your team and a “W” in the win column, or your country’s anthem and flag? Decision time.

    • Bayview Herb

      Easy. If you don’t like our country, you shouldn’t be sucking on a hind tit that spills millions of dollars into the pockets of these ingrates that rose through the system that allowed talent to reject the very society that gave these idiots the where with all to fight a battle they had already won.

      • John M

        I’m not a youngster and you’re being too damn critical. The battle has not been won, and there will always be new battles. The guys are trying to be thoughtful about this and talking it out. I hope they find another way than sitting for our anthem, but it’s their decision . . .

        • art thiel

          Well said, John. It’s already working. We’re thinking, although Herb is knee-jerk reacting.

      • art thiel

        No one is saying they don’t like the country, nor rejecting the society. Nor are they ingrates. They have a point to make about injustice, the likes of which you have not experienced.

        • rosetta_stoned

          the likes of which you have not experienced.

          And just how do you know that, Art?
          That’s right. You don’t.

          • Effzee

            Then, please. Enlighten us to your plight.

          • art thiel

            Please enlighten me on your experience with injustice.

    • Bayview Herb

      I don’t think you youngsters have any idea what you are suggesting, or the consequences it entails.

      • art thiel

        Age has little to do with any of this, Herb.

    • Bayview Herb

      Your attitude sucks.

    • Seattle Psycho

      As someone on Active Duty I am hopeful for the 6 points and a win and for the players to demonstrate or not as they see fit. I may not like how they choose to demonstrate should they so choose but defend their right to decide how to do so as long as no harm comes to others or property.

      • art thiel

        Well said, SP. Have you seen the twitter hashtag, #VeteransforKaepernick ?

    • art thiel

      Not the choice at all. Embrace the team, their points of view, enjoy the game. America.

      • MrPrimeMinister

        The players are putting fans in a difficult position. We cheer for them, we decorate our cars for them, we have jersey day at work for them. We want them to do well. They throwing it back in our faces.

        • Comrade Suge

          Well, nobody is forcing you to be a fan of the team. You might as well kiss off the whole league too cause it’s likely if you took a vote of players, the majority would agree with Kap.

        • art thiel

          No. A difficult position is being pulled over by a cop for driving while black. Your purported conflict over cheering a sports team is no comparison.

  • John M

    I think it’s good the guys are talking about it and wanting to do something about a complex, too often deadly situation that exists in all our cities. But sitting during our national anthem does not for me equate well in this. Yet they want to do something, and in itself that is commendable. I would not think less of any of them if they decided to do it, but if they keep talking I think they can do it better. An option might be to use twitter the right way. Tell people how you feel as a group, state your views without raving. You will be listened to because of who you are. It would get a much larger conversation going. It might not be as dramatic, but it could over time be much more effective.

    Just my 2 cents . . .

    • MrPrimeMinister

      Of course our country was created on protest, and we all have that right, but doing it on 09/11 shows an incredible lack of judgment. I don’t think they have thought this through. As Herb has stated, they are all still going to get paid.

      • Effzee

        Actually, the timing couldn’t be better. 9/11, first game of the season, etc… To bring light to these things on the anniversary of the day Building 7 was pulled has the potential to be very powerful. The truth is out there.

    • art thiel

      What about most of America that isn’t on Twitter? The TV broadcast remains the best way to have the largest impact. The fact that you’re uncomfortable with the anthem protest is the point — to make witnesses truly consider the message.

      • jafabian

        I thought Seahawks games were about Seahawks football.

        • Comrade Suge

          So I take it you also have issues with Navy planes flying over the stadium and all these displays of patriotism?

          • Effzee

            I have a huge issue with this. What does the military have to do with sports? Nothing. Just like politics. As long as the leagues choose to force nationalist, pro-war propaganda down our throats in venues where it has no logical place being, then I say athletes responding to political issues is totally fair game.

          • Okifish

            Wow unbelievable.

        • art thiel

          Then why do we need the anthem before the game?

  • Bayview Herb

    I think this could blow the Seahawks apart. The old fans will rebel and the younger ones most likely will go with the flow.

    • art thiel

      The team will not blow up. Some fans may be bothered, but it will have little impact on the players.

      • MrPrimeMinister

        Not so sure about that. It is extremely easy to envision how all of this hullaballoo might interfere with their preparation and focus for the game itself.

        • Comrade Suge

          So basically you’re saying, if you discuss this controversy, you’re incapable of focusing on your job.

          • art thiel

            It may be hullabaloo to you, it’s part of life to them.

          • MrPrimeMinister

            CS, have you ever heard the word “distraction” applied to team sports? That is exactly what this is. Furthermore–I believe it was Wagner who made reference to the team cooking up a “surprise” for the fans. Fans don’t like surprises. What is it, someone jumping out of a cake on the 50 yard line? Please hawks, no surprises.

          • Comrade Suge

            Yes, the difference between top teams like the Seahawks is they can block out distractions. If players were talking about ways to honor the flag, would you consider that a distraction?

  • rosetta_stoned

    Keep it up, guys. Just keep it up.

    I had no trouble walking away from the NBA for good when the Sonics left. It’s not too far of a leap to do the same with your precious NFL.

    • MrPrimeMinister

      A display of policemen as pigs on socks or in any other fashion is a deal breaker for me.

      • art thiel

        Kaep’s socks were a stupid provocation. He needs to apologize and refine.

        • MrPrimeMinister

          So not all protests are the same, and some are more effective than others. Thank you.

          • art thiel

            This is a surprise to you?

    • Comrade Suge

      Good luck with that!

    • art thiel

      That’s your privilege as a consumer. If your interest in based on a political stance, remember to not watch the Olympics because they allow dictatorships and communists to mix with our righteous boys and girls.

  • Matt Kite

    No skin off my back if these guys want to make a statement or demonstrate however they see fit. Glad I live in a free country where freedom of expression is valued. I can’t think of anything more patriotic.

    • art thiel

      How rational. Matt. As a nation, we have wrapped ourselves in cheap patriotism that gets demeaned down to a with-us-or-agin-us rhetoric that is, in fact, unpatriotic.

  • jafabian

    It’s not required to play the National Anthem. It’s just a war time tradition. Might be time to stop playing it.

    • Comrade Suge

      I agree, never understood why it was played so much. By doing it for every game, it makes it trivial. I would prefer it just be played for special games (playoff games, etc).

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    • art thiel

      It’s a chance for the sports leagues to say, “See, we’re good Americans too!”

  • Bill Woten

    Art, this really isn’t about too many examples of police brutality or abuse of power or racial inequality and injustice that continues. I’d like to think that even all of the people pushing back on Kaepernick are reasonable to enough to acknowledge that those are facts. And wrong. And need correcting.
    The push back has to do with the flag and the anthem, and more importantly the polar opposite viewpoints of how sacred those things are. And that they represent the very freedom of everything that Kaepernick feels is being threatened. My view is that the flag and anthem represent and guarantee his ability to speak his mind. By disrespecting them, he’s disrespecting the very thing thing that he wants protected.
    I attend many sporting events. The number of people today who don’t take off their hats, talk during them anthem, and are generally indifferent during the entire song is disgusting. Are there things about America that need fixing? Absolutely. But the flag and anthem represent all of it, the freedom, the opportunity, and the warts.
    The USA hockey coach said it much better. But that’s the sentiment many of us are feeling. Pulling the flag and anthem into the argument, while perhaps effective in getting people talking, is distasteful. And it’s distracting from Kaep’s intent. People are no longer focusing on the racial injustice. They’re focusing on the flag and anthem.

    • Comrade Suge

      Think about what your’e saying. A lot of Kapernick detractor’s say that he’s dishonoring freedom. The argument essentially boils down to: it’s our flag and anthem and you should stand regardless of your beliefs. Think about that, if these were the 1770s. What side of the arguments over America being “free” and whether to remain part of the British Empire would you think Kaepernick would be on?

      Insisting that people stand for the flag and anthem regardless of how they feel, sounds a lot like something people in a totalitarian country would say.

      • Diamond Mask

        It’s like the flag pin. Get over it. We don’t have to pass a test to be an American. That’s the whole point.

    • art thiel

      I get your point, Bill. But history has shown that protests directed at symbols get the most attention, which is, after all, the purpose. It is not wrong for the flag to represent different things to different people, just as America represents different things.

      It may be distasteful to you, but you and many others likely wouldn’t be expressing yourselves publicly if Kap didn’t use sports and the flag to to pull you into the discussion. He certainly didn’t help himself with the foolish cop/pig socks, but people on both sides of any passionate controversy do/say dumb things.

      A premise of protest is to make comfortable people uncomfortable. Regarding tactics for that, I much prefer nonviolent statements than resorting to guns and mayhem.

  • tor5

    You gotta appreciate Art for getting in the thick of such a hot issue. Whatever side you’re on, a reporter willing to stick his neck out a bit for the mere defense of reason is okay by me. Thanks Art!

    • art thiel

      Reason is increasingly elusive in our civic discourse. Maybe it’s out of fashion.