Multiple protests expected for Sunday’s Bucs-Giants game.

The controversy over kneeling during the national anthem continues from Tampa to London

It is week two of the great cultural debate on will NFL players, kneel or stand during the playing of the national anthem. One week ago as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, were on the road in Minneapolis to face the Vikings, star receivers DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans knelt during the national anthem before the game. Their actions were part of a league-wide protest by NFL players who used the game day for highlighting what they see as oppression of black Americans.

Both Jackson and Evans were quick to point out to fans and members of the media that during the anthem, they also put their hands over their heart, to honor those members past and present who serve in the nation’s military.


So, this Sunday there will be counter protests being held before and during the Buccaneers home game at Raymond James Stadium against the winless New York Giants. While most the crowd at the game Sunday will be there to enjoy football that will not be the case for some fans.

The game will attract an audience of protesters both around the stadium and north to the small rural town of Brooksville.

Sunday scheduled to start before the game there will be a “Stand Up for America” rally Raymond James Stadium. The protest is being organized in cooperation with a number of groups headed by the South Pinellas 912 Patriots, a Tea Party-affiliated group that takes the not standing during the national anthem by NFL players as a show of disrespect to the United States and those who fought in the military to keep the country free.

Meanwhile, about 55 miles north of Raymond James Stadium, in Brooksville, The Coney Island Dinner, there is another group that will be having a dinner protest. The “Celebration of Patriotism” event will feature an interesting twist. If you show up for the rally with an item of NFL gear, the organizers will give you a free hot dog and the merchandise collected will be burned. Also, organizers will be collecting money for the victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

Lest you think that Tampa Bay is the only NFL market where groups are protesting against players. Another high-profile protest has taken place in Baltimore.

Lakeland’s own Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis, who played his college ball at the University of Miami and crafted a Hall of Fame career as the leader of the Ravens defense for a decade came under fire this week.

Over 25,000 people signed a petition to have his statue that sits outside the Ravens home at M&T Bank Stadium on the Baltimore waterfront removed. Lewis was in London last week with Baltimore as they faced Jacksonville. He went down on both knees during the national anthem to in his words “Pray for unity in the country,” but some people did not see it that way and they want his statue gone.

The start of the NBA season is just a little over a week away and commissioner Adam Silver thinks that the players in his league will be standing during the playing of the national anthem. He made his thoughts known during a press conference in New York this week.

“Many of our players have spoken out already about their plan to stand for the anthem,” Silver said Thursday. “And I think they understand how divisive an issue it is in our society right now.”

Silver said playing the anthem is a time for respect and reflection, even though a quarter of the NBA’s players are not American. He noted that many teams locked arms last season, and he wants that practice to continue while standing.

“It’s been a rule as long as I’ve been involved with the league, and my expectation is that our players will continue to stand for the anthem,” Silver said.

However, Silver did not indicate what would happen for violations of his instructions. “If that were to happen, we’ll deal with it when it happens.”

As for the NHL where there are only 30 players in the entire league, it still is not known what to expect. We do know that one of the most well-known black players in the league Joel Ward won’t be taking a knee. The San Jose Sharks star right winger released a statement this morning.

“As a black man, I have experienced racism both inside and outside of the sporting world,” Ward wrote. “Make no mistake that racism exists and that people of color are treated differently on a day-to-day basis.” He concluded his remarks by saying.

“Although I fully support those who before me have taken the lead in bringing awareness to these issues,” his statement continued, “I will not kneel during the national anthem like my brothers have done.”

The issue is likely to be around for a long time as both sides want to exercise their first  amendment rights.


Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.