Beto O'Rourke invites high school football players who kneeled during national anthem to debate

Chris Cwik
Democratic presidential candidate former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Beto O'Rourke went viral for supporting Colin Kaepernick in 2018. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Beto O’Rourke believes athletes should be allowed to peacefully protest during the national anthem. When O’Rourke takes the stage during the Democratic debate Tuesday night, three high school football players who took a knee during the Anthem will be there watching him, according to Sports Illustrated.

O’Rourke invited three football players from Lansing Catholic High School to be his guests at the debate. In 2017, four football players from Lansing Catholic High School were benched after they planned to kneel during the national anthem.

Three of the players — Michael Lynn III, Matthew Abdullah and RoJe Williams — will be at the debate Tuesday. The fourth, Kabbalah Richards, could not make it because he’s away at college.

Those players followed former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s lead in 2017 and took a knee to protest racial injustice in the United States. They were benched for their actions, and two of the players transferred to different schools the following season. In 2018, Lansing Catholic High School football coach Jim Ahern reversed course and said players would not be punished for kneeling during the Anthem.

The 46-year-old O’Rourke heard about that incident after one of the players’ family members donated to O’Rourke’s campaign. In August 2018, a video of O’Rourke supporting Kaepernick’s right to kneel during the national anthem went viral.

O’Rourke will take the stage Tuesday with nine other Democratic presidential candidates, all of whom are hoping to inch closer to a nomination. O’Rourke has some ground to make up in that area. He’s polling at just four percent among Democratic candidates, according to the latest Emerson poll.


Chris Cwik is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

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