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.
— NBCWashington (@nbcwashington) August 19, 2014
"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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