NFL takes a Unified Stand; Steelers fall to Bears in OT

 

 In the past year, the National Football League (NFL) has gotten significant attention. As you might imagine, that would be nothing new because the NFL is truly the most popular sport not just in the country, but also on the planet. (You don’t believe me, just watch the Super Bowl and see how many international media are in attendance)

But the attention that the NFL is garnering is coming from what took place off, or rather on the sidelines of the field. A year ago, during a Preseason game, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, decided to sit for the National Anthem, instead of a stand which leads to an onslaught of scrutiny. His reason? “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag that opposes black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football, and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder. Eventually, Kaepernick chose to kneel for his convictions. He stated that he would keep kneeling until he feels like the American Flag represents what it’s supposed to represent.”

Many (Mostly in the African-American community) were emboldened by Kaepernick’s actions, along with many fellow NFL players, while others criticized the quarterback because they felt that he was disrespecting the Star-Spangled Banner and the American Flag, calling him a ‘traitor’ and ‘an embarrassment’ and that he should just stick to football.

In the midst of it all, Kaepernick’s 2016 on the field was a challenge from the start as he was replaced at starting QB by Blaine Gabbert. Despite it all, Kaepernick had a decent season for the 49ers in which he passed for 16 TDs and only four interceptions. But then Kaepernick chose to opt-out of his contract, which made him a free agent. Other than Baltimore and Seattle who met with him, no other NFL team has shown interest in him.

The fact that Kaepernick isn’t signed yet is disconcerting to many African-Americans, and they have chosen to boycott the NFL and not watch any games as a result. They feel that the NFL is blackballing him for refusing to stand for the National Anthem. President Donald Trump stated that any team that signed Kaepernick would face a public relations crisis.

President Trump struck again as he made general comments at a rally in Alabama suggesting that NFL owners should fire any NFL player that chooses to protest the National Anthem. But then the NFL stated that they refused to agree with Trump’s statement which they feel causes division and does not represent the country’s institutions and values. The National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Baseball (MLB) also expressed their disappointment in President Trump’s words and Oakland Athletics C Bruce Maxwell became the first baseball player to take a knee for the National Anthem.

On Sunday, NFL players and owners spoke loud with their disagreements over Trump’s words by collectively taking a knee, sitting or even refusing to be on the field during the National Anthem. The Pittsburgh Steelers are the team that declined to remain in the locker room (although T Alejandro Villanueva stood outside the tunnel) as the song was played.

I applaud the NFL for taking a stand because according to the country’s constitution, they have their rights. They showed a sign of unity that’s needed at a time when there are discrimination and racism in the land. It just goes to show that the players are people too and they realize that the fight off the field is more important than the fight on the field.

Steelers get upset by Bears on OT-Jordan Howard pushed through the pain in his right shoulder to give the Bears the lift they needed.

Howard scored on a 19-yard run in overtime to lead Chicago to a 23-17 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

Howard’s winning score came two plays after rookie Tarik Cohen broke off an electric run for what appeared to be a 73-yard game-winning touchdown. But he was ruled out at the Pittsburgh 37. Howard took over from there and got a big assist as he ran along the left side. Deonte Thompson might have grabbed Pittsburgh’s Artie Burns while pushing him out of bounds. But no flag was thrown, and the Bears (1-2) came away with a surprising victory.

 

Howard came up clutching his right shoulder – which has bothered him since the opener – several times and wasn’t sure he would make it through this game. He wound up with 138 of Chicago’s 220 yards rushing, and two touchdown runs. It was just what the Bears needed with quarterback Mike Glennon delivering another lackluster performance.

 

The Steelers (2-1) stayed on the sideline for the national anthem in the wake of President Donald Trump’s comments that players who kneel in protest should be fired. Left tackle Alejandro Villanueva – an Army veteran – stood near the tunnel with his hand over his heart.

Once the game ended, they found themselves in a familiar spot – losing to a lesser team and losing in Chicago, where they are 1-13 against the Bears.

 

The Steelers have had at least one head-scratching loss every year going back to 2012.

Last year, Pittsburgh fell 34-3 to Philadelphia, which finished with a losing record. In 2015, the Steelers were surging toward a playoff spot, when they lost late in the season to a Baltimore team that went 5-11.

 

Despite the victory, Glennon did nothing to stop the calls in Chicago for No. 2 overall draft pick Mitchell Trubisky, throwing for just 101 yards with a touchdown and interception.

Marcus Cooper committed an inexplicable fumble after the Bears blocked a field goal in the closing seconds of the half. With a clear path to the end zone, he slowed down and had the ball poked away at the 1. But the Bears won for just the first time in nine September games over three seasons under coach John Fox.

 

Ben Roethlisberger blamed himself for Pittsburgh’s loss. ‘I think I was off today,” he said after throwing for 235 yards and a touchdown. ”For whatever reason, I did not make all the throws I usually would and make the plays I normally should.”

Antonio Brown had 110 yards receiving and a touchdown. And Le’Veon Bell ran for 61 yards and a TD for Pittsburgh.

 

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

Follow him @urbanmediaRay on twitter

www.cbssports.com

 

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