Viewers of the Rams game yesterday got an unexpected – and in some quarters, unwelcome – surprise when the team took the field for their game against the Raiders.
The St. Louis Rams made a silent statement about the decision by a Ferguson, Mo., grand jury not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old, last August.
The decision has sparked protests around the country, but especially in Ferguson, which is just a few miles from the Rams’ Edward Jones Dome in downtown St. Louis. On Sunday, as they ran onto the field to play the Oakland Raiders, Rams players raised their arms in a “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture.
The St. Louis Police Officers Association immediately protested the action.
The St. Louis Police Officers Association is profoundly disappointed with the members of the St. Louis Rams football team who chose to ignore the mountains of evidence released from the St. Louis County Grand Jury this week and engage in a display that police officers around the nation found tasteless, offensive and inflammatory.
Five members of the Rams entered the field today exhibiting the “hands-up-don’t-shoot” pose that has been adopted by protestors who accused Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson of murdering Michael Brown. The gesture has become synonymous with assertions that Michael Brown was innocent of any wrongdoing and attempting to surrender peacefully when Wilson, according to some now-discredited witnesses, gunned him down in cold blood.
SLPOA Business Manager Jeff Roorda said, “now that the evidence is in and Officer Wilson’s account has been verified by physical and ballistic evidence as well as eye-witness testimony, which led the grand jury to conclude that no probable cause existed that Wilson engaged in any wrongdoing, it is unthinkable that hometown athletes would so publicly perpetuate a narrative that has been disproven over-and-over again.”
What’s gotten into these players? Even if we didn’t have miles of grand jury testimony and forensic evidence showing that Mike Brown initiated the confrontation which ended his life, and no matter how you feel about the state of community relations with law enforcement, the football stadium is not the place for this. The NFL is not the government, nor is it a public debate society. The NFL is a business and their business is entertainment. I watch the games because I love football. Even if we weren’t talking about the Ferguson shooting, I have no interest in seeing a player come out waving a banner declaring their pro-abortion or pro-life position. That family in the stands didn’t lay out $300 or more for tickets, overpriced hot dogs and giant foam fingers to hear you pontificate on the merits of a flat tax. We came to see you play football.
Further, engaging on any controversial issue is bad for business all the way around. The NFL serves an audience which crosses all demographic and political lines. And they need to serve that entire audience. Turning off big chunks of the fan base by dragging the greatest game in the world through the mud of politics and divisiveness only drives nails in your own coffin. If you want to engage in non-football related activities, help out a charity, and do it after the game ends. Lots of players do, and it spreads a little sunshine across the land while bolstering your position as role models.
Enough of this nonsense. The Rams need to pull these guys aside and put an end to this.