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Hopefully, everyone can agree upon this: Whatever you think of the various NFL player protests during the national anthem, they’re more constructive than domestic violence. Or wishing death upon a police officer.
That’s apparently not true in Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown’s world, however.
The hypocrisy of the NFL not signing Colin Kaepernick, and now Eric Reid, over their protests has been spoken often over the past year. The exact moment it became tangible is when Brown told Reid he would prohibit Reed kneeling for the national anthem. That report came from Pro Football Talk, who said Brown had a conversation with Reid during his free-agent visit, and it almost exclusively was about his protests. Reid, Kaepernick and others have kneeled during the anthem to bring attention to social issues.
Other teams might still have some high moral ground on which to operate that way. The Bengals are not one of them.
Brown has welcomed to his team many players with spotty records. Running back Joe Mixon punched a female student at Oklahoma, it was on video, many teams reportedly took Mixon off their draft boards … and the Bengals drafted him in the second round last year. The Bengals have also employed Adam Jones, who famously got in trouble again and again with the NFL. Brown personally stood behind Jones after Jones was arrested in January of 2017 on misdemeanor counts of assault, disorderly conduct and obstructing official business, and a felony for harassment of a member of the medical staff in the justice center with a bodily substance. He allegedly spit on a nurse and told an officer, “I hope you die tomorrow.”
Here’s what Brown said about Jones last year, when defending not cutting him.
“You are dealing with people’s lives here. It’s easy to sit on high and say, ‘Oh, terrible, terrible. Let’s bring down the sword,’” Brown told the Cincinnati Enquirer last year. “I think that’s an overreaction. I’m not condoning his actions. They were in all honestly embarrassing. He was out of control. He misbehaved. He made a fool of himself. No one knows that more than he does. I don’t know that I have been perfect in my lifetime, either.
“But I hope it ends up that he gets his life back and he has openly apologized. He knows full well what he has done to himself. He regrets it. But it’s been made into a public issue and maybe I am overly tolerant. If so, so be it.”
Yes, the man who made sure to call himself “overly tolerant” about a player allegedly spitting on a nurse and wishing death on a cop apparently has a line, and that line is peaceful protest during the national anthem. It’s not like Mixon and Jones are the only two Bengals who have been hired despite spotty legal records.
PFT’s report said Reid, who has said he’s not planning to kneel, was caught off guard by Brown’s questions and wasn’t willing in the moment to make a final decision to Brown. Reid later was asked by Bengals coach Marvin Lewis if he had any clarifications to make to what he said to Brown about the anthem. Reid said no, and the visit ended shortly after that PFT said. No contract offer was made.
The anthem issue has become so emotional for many people, some won’t see the hypocrisy being displayed by the Bengals. But it’s pretty startling. The owner of a team that has overlooked serious, sometimes criminal incidents off the field time and again is now fixated on whether Reid will stand for the anthem, although he has said he plans to. The priorities seem strange, but it’s a good bet many people won’t see that and will defend Brown.
And it becomes pretty easy to see why this topic has become such a contentious issue among NFL players.
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