One day after anthem protests defined an NFL Sunday, Tiki Barber and Brandon Tierney weighed in on a truly unforgettable sports day in America.
The protests were a direct response to President Donald Trump urging NFL owners to fire players exercising their first-amendment rights, calling each hypothetical player a “son of a (bleep).”
Neither CBS Sports Radio host agreed with the President’s stance – or language.
“That statement is dripping with, on the most benign level, incredible insensitivity (and) on the most egregious level, overt racism,” Tierney said on Tiki and Tierney. “My answer, honestly, is probably somewhere in between. Either way, it’s wrong. . . . He’s not even trying to walk it back. He’s doubling down.”
Tierney, though, remains conflicted about the protests.
“I would never kneel,” he said, “but I understand why some are. . . . I think we all lost yesterday. I really do. The stick-to-sports crowd, that’s incredibly antiquated. That doesn’t exist anymore. The reason why I think we all lose is No. 1, I think on some level, the origin of the protest has been a little diluted. Now there’s venom toward the president – and I understand why for sure – but I almost get the sense people don’t know what they’re reacting to. Or it’s been marginalized. Sports has become too heavy. It has.”
Several Ravens and Jaguars, for example, locked arms or took a knee during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” in London on Sunday, yet stood for “God Save the Queen.”
“How embarrassing (is that)?” Tierney asked. “The macro view, the way we’re perceived by the world, we give you our sport and our two teams cant’t even find a mesh. It was disheartening. I get it, though. But disheartening.”
For Barber, Sunday officially solidified Colin Kaepernick’s legacy.
“He’s not even on a team,” Barber said in disbelief. “He’s not commenting. This accidental activist was sitting behind a water cooler (last August) and started this kneeling protest that has now expanded and exploded into something that is not going away anytime soon. This kid was so close to being a legit super superstar – a Super Bowl MVP-type player. He has this infectious nature about him. When he gets on the field, he was energizing.
“But think of (how) he went from that to where he is now,” Barber continued. “That is not how we will remember Colin Kaepernick 15 or 20 years from now. He will be remembered as the accidental activist who started this movement in the National Football League. His legacy is not football anymore. It is this (protest). It is now solidified as his legacy. It won’t be football.”
Barber understands why some people believe that players are disrespecting the military. He also understands why some people believe that players are “honoring those who died protecting their rights.” Ultimately, he wants both sides to find more common ground.
“This is my only issue,” Barber said. “The problem is that these protests – while they’re noticed and they’re silent on the field and there’s snippets of conversations after games – it’s not fully articulated yet. It hasn’t gotten intelligent yet. It hasn’t gotten loud yet. And we’re waiting for one of these athletes to be the voice behind these protests and make it concrete as opposed to letting other forces be the voice for their protests.”
Until then, sports and politics will continue to intertwine. Barber, like many, isn’t sure which to focus on: the protests or the games.
“I don’t even know how to watch these things sometimes,” he said.