Why Giants Pitcher Sam Coonrod Did Not Kneel with His Team Before First Game: 'I'm a Christian'

"I just believe that I can't kneel before anything besides God," Sam Coonrod said

Sam Coonrod
Photo: Mark J Terrill/AP/Shutterstock

San Francisco Giants pitcher Sam Coonrod said he chose not to kneel with teammates in support of Black Lives Matter last week because of his faith.

When the Giants' visited the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday night for their first game of the season, players from both teams took a knee while holding a black ribbon in a public display of unity. But Coonrod was absent from the ceremony, later telling NBC Sports Bay Area that he "can't kneel before anything besides God."

"I meant no ill will by it. I don't think I'm better than anyone," Coonrod said, according to the outlet. "I'm a Christian. I just believe I can't kneel before anything besides God — Jesus Christ."

"I chose not to kneel. I feel that if I did kneel, I would be being a hypocrite," he continued. "I didn't want to be a hypocrite. Like I said, I didn't mean any ill will toward anyone."

According to KNBR, the 27-year-old athlete said he was told about the kneeling ceremony just before the start of the game and didn't have time to talk to his teammates about his decision.

Coonrod also said he doesn't agree with the goals of Black Lives Matter, which has been behind the nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism that have been held since the May 25 death of George Floyd.

Sam Coonrod
Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty

"I just can’t get on board with a couple things I’ve read about Black Lives Matter, how they lean towards Marxism,” Coonrod said. “And… they said some negative things about the nuclear family. I just can’t get on board with that.”

"I’m not mad at someone who decided to kneel," he added. "I just don’t think it’s too much to ask that I just get the same respect."

Giants manager Gabe Kapler — who participated in the kneeling ceremony — said he supported his pitcher's decision to remain to the side of the field as his teammates kneeled.

“The one thing that we said is we were going to let people express themselves,” Kapler said after the game, according to NBC Sports. “We were going to give them the choice on whether they were going to stand, kneel or do something else. That was a personal decision for Sam.”

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Kapler made headlines earlier this month when he responded to comments from President Donald Trump, who said he would no longer watch live sports should players continue to kneel during the anthem.

"I see nothing more American than standing up for what you believe in. I see nothing more patriotic than peaceful protests when things are frustrating and upsetting," Kapler said in response, as noted by USA Today.

"There's nobody that should make us stop doing the right thing. It doesn’t matter what leader says that they’re not going to be following a game," he added. "What matters the most is that we’re unwavering in trying to do what’s right. What guides our decision is standing up for people who need us to stand up for them.’"

  • Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
  • ColorofChange.org works to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.
  • National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help Black youth succeed in college and beyond.
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