Black Quarterback: The Tables Have Turned Episode
By Brandon Simmons
National Anthem Protests
The tables have certainly turned when thinking about these protests. I wrote about this Sunday, on whether or not the owners were being hypocritical in their response to President Trump calling the players son of a bitches if they took a knee during the national anthem. The actions of the league were overwhelmingly surprising. The Pittsburgh Steelers were one of the few teams who stayed inside for the anthem; the Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens opened their game up by kneeling for the anthem. Other teams decided to stand and lock arms, while players kneeled at the same time. It was a sight that showed maybe the NFL is wearing that shoe on the other foot now.
Before Sunday, very few players kneeled this whole season; and if they did there was no media coverage of it like last season. Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took his knee to profile the racial injustice happening in the country and the NFL owners somehow missed that exact point of his actions. They couldn’t understand that Kaepernick felt a certain group was being targeted unfairly until the league as a whole became that group. True, Trump only went after the players directly, but could it be that going after them would anger the very core of how their money is made. The NFL player population is roughly 75% African American, so setting the tempers off within that sector could cause a work stoppage the owners aren’t prepared for.
It might seem weird to complain about how the NFL responded yesterday but it gets a little bit deeper than that. Kaepernick has always maintained that his kneeling was never about disrespecting the flag, veterans or whatever else they try to pin on him; but nobody was trying to hear about that. They were so quick to paint him in so much negativity and he still kept with his stance by exercising his right of free speech. Fast forward a year later, now the league is kneeling to keep its right of free speech. You have never seen this many players kneeling or sitting during the anthem. The only notable players to do so this year was Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch and Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, who was actually harassed by cops in Las Vegas and vowed to sit during the anthem this entire season.
A lot of people have applauded players, coaches and owners for taking a knee, but it should have been this way since the beginning. This was not a protest for racial injustice. This was an attempt to clap at a man who hurt the league’s feelings. Kaepernick didn’t risk his career so the league could get into a public feud with the president. That was not his purpose at all but it seemed to be the only thing that league cared about at that time. It will be interesting to see how this plays out moving forward.
Is it Safe to talk about the Jaguars?
In the midst of all the weekend’s controversy, many people have probably overlooked the fact that the Jacksonville Jaguars posted their 2nd blowout in the first 3 weeks of the season. The latest victim has been the Baltimore Ravens, in which the Jaguars gave them a 44-7 beat down, which included Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco getting held to 28 yards passing and 0 touchdowns. The Jaguars have once gain proven their mark defensively. But are we jumping the gun with this team?
It is not new to get your hopes high for the Jacksonville Jaguars, especially in recent years. Last season, people strangely thought this team could do some work at 2-3 even though they started 0-3 on the year. Usually these expectations happen when looking at their squads on paper. Wide receivers Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee give the team some speedy options up and down the field as well as tight end Marcedes Lewis, who has been a staple at that position with this team for quite a while now. Rookie running back Leonard Fournette gives this team a strong rushing attack alongside Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon.
But it’s the defense that has been making the most noise. In Week 1, they exposed the Houston Texans’ weak offensive line by racking up 10 sacks. In Week 3, they only got 2 sacks as a unit but managed to get 2 picks and hold the Ravens offense to 186 yards. That might seem difficult but not when you have made some impressive moves on that side of the ball. In the offseason, the Jags signed former Arizona Cardinal defensive tackle Calais Campbell, who had 4 sacks in that Houston game. They also beefed their secondary up by adding former Texan A.J. Bouye to play opposite Jalen Ramsey at corner and also former Dallas Cowboy Barry Church to operate as safety.
A lot of teams have looked like gold in the beginning of the year and just fall out of their divisions by Week 10; Jacksonville usually does it by Week 6. It has been a long time since the Jaguars were considered a playoff contender. The way things are looking now, all of that could change and that’s almost a safe bet to make.
Odell Barking up the wrong Tree
Odell Beckham, Jr. is a young talented superstar, who just might arguably be the best wide receiver in the league; but his antics is overshadowing his talent. The New York Giants phenom is experiencing an identity crisis like none other. On one end, he is Jerry Rice, a prolific receiver who has defenses shook every time he touches the field. But at the other end, he is Terell Owens and Chad Johnson; a talented receiver that still strikes fear in defenses, but lets his non-football actions take overlook his productions. Perfect example would be Sunday, when he scored his first touchdown. The score was his 300th reception, which made him the fastest to ever to reach that feat, but it was after the touchdown that drew more attention. Beckham decided to imitate being a dog and fake urinate at the end of end zone.
No pun intended, but Beckham is barking up the wrong tree for his career. His skillset is very valuable to the Giants, as well as any team if he chooses to leave; but the one glaring fault against him is his immaturity and non-football actions. As much as Terell Owens was a dynamic receiver, some of his actions rubbed people the wrong way and it eventually cost him some chances to win a championship. The dog incident is just a tip of the iceberg. A couple of years ago, Beckham got into an on-the-field scuffle with cornerback then-Carolina Panthers cornerback Josh Norman, over some alleged pre-game harassment. During the exchange he tried to go at Norman’s head, which might have caused a concussion and started an even bigger fight. Last year, he got so angry at a kicking net, that when he hit it, it fell back on him. Beckham may be a few years away from getting into the prime of his career, but he is already blowing the competition away. He needs to stay focused and control his emotions before he becomes a stray wide receiver pissing on his career.
Shout out to the New Orleans Saints for getting their first win of the year, beating the Carolina Panthers 34-13. The Saints defense also appeared holding Panthers quarterback Cam Newton to 167 yards passing, 3 interecepitions and sacked him 4 times.
Shut out to the Arizona Cardinals, who gave up 6 sacks in their 28-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football. The crazy part is Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer still out-passed Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott 325 (29/47) to 183 (13/18).
Shout to Chicago Bears running back Jordan Howard, who ran for the Bears’ game winning touchdown in overtime Sunday, against the Pittsburgh Steelers. It Howard’s 2nd touchdown of the game.
Shut out to injuries, as Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles had his season ended after suffering a broken arm and tore his ACL on the same play. No word on whether or not this is his final season.
Shout out to Colin Kaepernick for initially taking a knee against police brutality on people of color.
Shut out to Ray Lewis for looking like somebody dragging him from backstage at a concert.
Not a lot to Shout out or shut out since the NFL pseudo-protests were happening, but this weekend shall bring some more of those opportunities. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens will be coming off of their losses and trying to take the frustrations out on each other by beating the other team down. The Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos are going to have a division battle; hopefully for the Raiders it is one that will get them back on track after last week’s national TV loss. The Washington Redskins and Kansas City Chiefs will go to war on Monday Night Football to finish out Week 4. But until then…I’ll holla.
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