At least one NFL player appears to be willing to walk away from football if forced to stand for the national anthem. Tennessee Titans wide receiver Rishard Matthews has remained in the locker room during the anthem, and he intends on maintaining his right to protest.
On Thursday (Oct. 12) Matthews tweeted that he’s “done playing football” if the NFL makes it mandatory for players to stand for the anthem, reports ESPN.
Though Matthews deleted the tweet, he recently expressed frustration over the “standard” that athletes are being held to as opposed to elected officials.
They Hold us Athletes to a way HIGHER standard than a lot of these people who are in charge which is mind blowing to me!
— Rishard Matthews (@_RMatthews) October 10, 2017
The 28-year-old pro athlete comes from a military family with his father and brother both serving in the Marines. In 2015, Matthews’ brother, Christopher Ruiz, was killed in Afghanistan while working as a private defense contractor.
The NFL has yet to make standing for the anthem a league-wide requirement.
Matthews joined other athletes in the silent act of protest against police brutality and racial injustice, but the message has been skewed thanks to the distractive tactics of President Donald Trump who single-handedly switched the narrative from the actual issue that inspired Colin Kaepernick to take a knee during games last year, and put the focus on the flag and the military.
Vice President Mike Pence joined Trump in pushing the false anti-military narrative on Sunday (Oct. 8) with a pre-planned publicity stunt where he attended a game between the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers, tweeted an old photo of himself that he claimed was from the game, and walked out after some players protested the anthem. The stunt reportedly cost taxpayers more than $200,000.
*UPDATE: Matthews had a change of heart on the issue, calling his original tweets a “bad decision.”
“Sometimes people, as you all know, tweet some ignorant things out at some moments, and that was an ignorant thing I tweeted out at that given moment,” Matthews said via paulkuharsky.com “I take full responsibility. That’s why it went down [was deleted], but somebody caught me with a screen shot.”