Following a record number of national anthem protests before NFL games last weekend, two football players at Victory & Praise Christian Academy decided to follow the example and protest the anthem.
Cedric Ingram-Lewis raised his fist in the air and his cousin, Larry McCullough, knelt. But their Marine veteran coach wanted absolutely nothing to do with it.
The Houston Chronicle reports:
After the anthem ended, head coach Ronnie Mitchem instructed them to take off their uniforms and kicked them off the team.Mitchem is a former Marine and pastor who started the church-based football program in Crosby six years ago.
Ingram-Lewis, a sophomore, said the topic of protesting had come up in the locker room before and his cousin McCullough, a senior, even announced he would kneel via social media. The coach had told players he did not want anyone to kneel, citing his service in the military.
After the game, Lewis said, “He told us that disrespect will not be tolerated. He told us to take off our uniform and leave it there.” Lewis’s mom stated she supported their decision to protest the national anthem. She said:
“I’m definitely going to have a conversation because I don’t like the way that that was handled.
But I don’t want them back on the team. A man with integrity and morals and ethics and who truly lives by that wouldn’t have done anything like that.
Actions speak louder than words. So, for him to do what he did, that really spoke volumes and I don’t want my kids or my nephew to be around a man with no integrity.”
Ronnie Mitchem, the team’s coach, said he made a deal with the players that they would not kneel, and he supported their right to protest, but he wanted them to do it in other ways than during the anthem. He stated:
“That was my point of view. Like I said, I’m a former Marine. That just doesn’t fly and they knew that. I don’t have any problem with those young men. We’ve had a good relationship. They chose to do that and they had to pay for the consequences.”
President Trump has split the country over NFL protests during the national anthem; that seems to be the consensus takeaway from some new polls. A CNN survey, for instance, finds people think the players are doing the “wrong thing” by a 49-to-43 margin.
On the first point, it’s not surprising that the protests would be somewhat unpopular. Protests like this are almost by definition unpopular, because they need to provoke to gain attention. Kneeling during the national anthem became a big deal when Colin Kaepernick first did it because of how unusual — and arguably out-of-bounds
It will be interesting to see if NFL owners start to take the same approach as ratings have tanked since the protests began.