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COLUMBUS, Ohio- This weekend, the National Football League was the center of attention across the United States as more than 250 players and several team owners took part in various protests occurring during the national anthem of each of the league's 14 games after President Donald Trump made several comments on social media about how the NFL should handle demonstrations during the anthem.
With all of the attention this protest has been receiving in the national media, people asked about how this was affecting the Ohio State football program.
Coach Urban Meyer said Monday that he has not been able to talk about these issues with his players, but when and if he did, it would be private.
"I don’t usually have these conversations… that is between me and the player and to be honest I don't know," Meyer said. "If I did, I probably would not share it with you because that is, to me that is sanctuary type meetings that you have with your players, that you have trust in. It is no different than you say what if my son or daughter came home and asked me what would I do. That is between me and them."
Some players, during media availability on Tuesday, shared their opinions about the subject.
Defensive end Jalyn Holmes feels as though the focus on the protest is on what the players are doing and not why.
“I feel like when people choose to focus on what they are doing and not why they are doing, they don’t want to admit what is really going on,” Holmes said. “It’s a lot of social injustice and discrimination going on in this country and I understand why they are doing it because I’ve been a victim of both, growing up where I am from. If that is the way to get people’s attention, to see what is really going on in this country, keep going.”
With all of the publicity that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick had when he started to kneel during the anthem, quarterback J.T. Barrett feels as though the meaning behind the protest had been misconstrued over time.
“I think that some of it is getting lost in it is that it is not a, the protesting is not something that’s towards our country, as far as the national anthem and having pride as far as being the United States,” Barrett said. “There is more drawing attention to the social injustice as far as innocent people getting killed or being, I guess you would say targeted in a way. I think that is one of the things. Some people are getting into more of like we are disrespecting the military, as far as the NFL players or whatever the case may be. I don’t think that is the case.”
Growing up in a military family in Texas, Barrett was disturbed by the remarks that Trump made regarding the act of protesting.
“I saw the comments of what President Trump said,” Barrett said. “It was like, what are you talking about. That is why we are the United States. We have freedom of speech, freedom to protest, whatever you want. It really doesn’t matter. It’s just the fact that that’s who we are as Americans and the fact that he kind of tried to quiet people down and kind of silence that was really wild to me.”
Holmes said that players in the Ohio State locker room have talked about an act of protesting, but nothing has come to fruition. Instead, the conversation was more about what they, as players could do to help out around their area.
“One thing we do talk about is just controlling what we can,” Holmes said. "The way I can control it from here is just giving back to the community the best way I can. There is no point in taking a knee for that if you are not really participating in the community, really. Then you're just doing it because it is cool. You have to do it with a purpose. We haven’t talked about it, but I would be open to it."
With differing viewpoints around the Ohio State locker room, Meyer feels as though he has developed an atmosphere that encourages dialogue. However, one thing that will never change during this time of social turmoil is the respect that he expects from each of his players.
"I think that goes back to developing a culture," Meyer said. "A culture of team, a culture of respect and a culture of focus. I talked to some players, we will do what we normally do and have good conversation and I will let people have their opinions and never cross the R-word, which is respect."