On Sunday, the NFL kicks off its 100th season of professional football.
(Actually, it was Thursday’s lame game in Chicago between the Packers and Bears, but we’ve been trying to ease that one from memory).
Rest assured there will be a handful of players taking a knee in solidarity of Colin Kaepernick or in continuation of social injustice, oppression or police brutality. Those offended by the kneeling have either tuned out the NFL altogether or they’re simply numb to the players’ actions.
On the day his joint venture with the NFL was announced last month, Jay-Z told the media, “I think we’ve moved past kneeling. I think it’s time for action.”
Those who continue to kneel like Carolina’s Eric Reid and Houston’s Kenny Stills took exception with Jay-Z’s stance in that the rapper was never part of the protest in the first place.
Kenny Stills on Jay-Z/NFL paternship: "Talking about we're moving past kneeling like he ever protested... Choosing to speak for the people like he had spoken to the people... I wonder if he's read my Facebook/IG comments or what people say to me... It didn't seem very informed." pic.twitter.com/QGak3JKCcO— Cameron Wolfe (@CameronWolfe) August 19, 2019
But Jay-Z is right. It’s now been over 1,100 days since Kaepernick first took a knee during a 2016 preseason game. If players still feel the need to take a knee, then they’re clearly not unified in finding a solution or determined towards taking that next step in the healing process.
I question their purpose in the same manner I questioned Megan Rapinoe’s.
“I’ll probably never put my hand over my heart,” the 33-year-old U.S. soccer star told Yahoo Sports. “I’ll probably never sing the national anthem again.”
Never, as in ever?
Rapinoe seems to be so disgusted at the state of affairs in America that there’s apparently no change, no advancement in our society or an awakening that could fulfill the lack of pride she feels now. Rapinoe also cites cited “over-policing, racial profiling, [and] police brutality.”
So instead of taking knee where the message has run its course over the past few years and doesn’t exactly grab people’s attention any longer, let’s try something different during the playing of the anthem.
Stand and hold up a small sign during the playing of the anthem with a name on it.
Someone who’s actually been the victim of over-policing and/or police brutality. In a matter of minutes, social media would gravitate towards the victim who needlessly and unexpectedly lost their life. That name would be trending all across Twitter and Facebook would be sharing their stories.
We know about Freddie Gray, Eric Garner and Michael Brown, but can anyone recall John Wrana.
John Wrana was a 95-year-old World War-II veteran having served in India and Burma and was living out his remaining days in an assisted living home in suburban Chicago.
One night in July 2013, Wrana became hostile with medical personnel when armed officers stormed this “old folks home.” Somehow, they mistook a shoehorn that Wrana was holding for a machete.
How in the hell they made that ridiculous distinction is beyond me, and even if Wrana was wielding a machete or even a knife, did they really believe he would have the reflexes at his age to attack the officers and pierce their bodies? Wrana needed a walker to get around.
After failing to connect with a TASER, officer Craig Taylor shot Wrana’s body five times with a beanbag gun from close range. He died just weeks shy of his 96th birthday.
Taylor was acquitted on charges of reckless conduct. The Wrana family filed a federal lawsuit and the city of Park Forest agreed to settle for $1.1 million with 800,000 of those dollars covering legal fees.
However, the unnecessary killing of Wrana received little national coverage outside of Chicago, but you don’t have to dig too deep into a Google search to find similar stories like his.
The numbers of people killed by police are staggering compared to those murdered in mass shootings. Since 2015, police have claimed the lives of over 4,300 citizens – many that were justified but many more that were unwarranted.
To put that in perspective you have an 1100% greater chance of being killed by an armed officer than you do from a mass shooter.
So if I’m Eric Reid or Kenny Stills, let’s move past the kneeling and take action. Hold up a sign on Sunday that reads “John Wrana” or someone else because remembering those victims goes a lot farther than just taking a knee game after game and season after season.
Come back next week and I’ll have another name for you.