During Monday night's pregame introductions, several Washington Redskins players ran onto the field with their hands raised, a gesture of support for the town of Ferguson, Missouri.
Ferguson is currently engulfed in turmoil as the result of a police shooting on Aug. 9. On that date, Michael Brown was killed by police even after witnesses said he raised his arms and told police he was unarmed. As a result, arms raised in surrender have become a symbol of solidarity and protest in connection with the Ferguson story.
Several players entered Monday's game with the Cleveland Browns with arms raised, and according to WNEW-FM, the idea originated with Washington safety Brandon Meriweather and cornerback DeAngelo Hall.
"That could have been any one of us," free safety Ryan Clark told WNEW. "That could have been any one of our brothers, our cousins. … When you get an opportunity to make a statement, and be more than a football player, it’s good."
Here's video of the players entering (if video is not visible, click here):
Good for the players, perhaps. For the NFL? Not so much.
The players' move drags the NFL and Washington squarely into the political realm, a place they, and many fans, desperately want to avoid because of its uncontrollable nature. Will players on other teams emulate this message of support? Will the image-conscious NFL crack down on such celebrations? The NFL has fined players for matters as trivial as the color of their shoes, and seeks at every turn to avoid even a hint of political controversy. That's a literally impossible task when Ferguson is the topic, however.
And then, of course, there's the ever-present matter of the Redskins' name itself, which many view as racially insensitive. How will players, the team, and the NFL navigate the thicket of competing agendas and perspectives? It's a minor concern in the grand scheme of the Ferguson story, of course, but one that won't go away easily.
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