"If you still think it's about disrespecting the flag or our military, you clearly haven’t been listening," JJ Watt tweeted

By Georgia Slater
June 13, 2020 07:00 PM
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Houston Texans player JJ Watt is sharing his thoughts on kneeling during the national anthem.

Earlier this week, Texans coach Bill O'Brien told the Houston Chronicle that he was "all for" taking a knee with his players, however one fan argued that defensive end Watt wouldn't be seen kneeling beside O'Brien. "Pretty sure you won't see @JJWatt taking a knee," the fan said in a since-deleted tweet, according to USA Today.

In response to the fan tweet, Watt spoke out on Twitter Saturday, writing: "A) don't speak for me" followed by "B) if you still think it's about disrespecting the flag or our military, you clearly haven't been listening."

Watt isn't the only athlete to speak out about kneeling during the national anthem, specifically after New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees came under fire for likening kneeling during the national anthem to "disrespecting the flag."

Earlier this month, Brees, 41, was heavily criticized when Yahoo Finance published an interview, during which the NFL star said he would "never agree" with taking a knee during the anthem. The comments were rebuked by a number of athletes, including LeBron James and Aaron Rodgers.

Brees' interview was made public more than a week after the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed on May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

The #TakeAKnee movement was famously sparked by Colin Kaepernick, the former quarterback for the San Fransisco 49ers, when he refused to stand during the national anthem before NFL games in protest of police brutality and racial injustice in the United States.

Earlier this month, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell formally apologized for ignoring players who previously kneeled during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racism.

"We, the National Football League, condemn racism and systematic oppression of black people. [We] admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest," Goodell said in a video message.

"We, the National Football League, believe Black Lives Matter," he said. "I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country. Without black players, there would be no National Football League, and the protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality and oppression of black players, coaches, fans and staff."

Many players in the league and from other sports, including soccer star Megan Rapinoe, joined in the on the protest by kneeling or participating with their own variations. At the time, Rapinoe was the first white athlete and the first female athlete to kneel.

In May 2018, NFL owners voted unanimously to approve a policy that would fine teams for players who kneel during the national anthem. But that decision was later postponed for a later date, according to Rolling Stone, after the Miami Dolphins threatened to fine players for four games if they took a knee.

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

  • 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.