DALLAS - One Dallas pastor said he hopes the attention generated by comments and tweets from President Donald Trump on NFL players kneeling during the national anthem refocuses the discussion underlying the protest back to the issue of racial injustice.
Players from around the NFL from London to Los Angeles kneeled, locked arms or did not participate in the national anthem on Sunday.
Falcons owner Arthur Blank and Jaguars owner Shahid Khan joined players on the field in locked arms as well.
Pastor Frederick Haynes watched all of it closely on Sunday.
"The players have a lot to lose, I have so much respect for that," Haynes said.
Haynes is pastor at Friendship West Baptist Church, one of the largest predominately African American congregations in Dallas.
On Sunday he wore a black t-shirt with the image of Colin Kaepernick and the number "7".
"Kaepernick was for the most part a committee of one," Haynes said.
Kaepernick is the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who began kneeling for the national during the 2016 season, as a response to the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police.
Kaepernick, 29, remains a free agent this year despite having statistics better than nearly all backup quarterbacks on the 32 NFL teams.
His absence on a sideline in 2017 has led to wide perception that he was de-facto banned from the league by owners unwilling to employ him over the potential pushback from fans who did not agree with Kaepernick's actions.
"We’re used to the demonization of those who take a stand only to discover that history vindicates their stand," Haynes said.
Haynes added it's unclear what will happen going forward but believes the attention Trump directed at players for kneeling during the anthem can be directed at the difficult dialogue of racial injustice in America.
"Hopefully the movement gathers more steam and we finally get around to discussing what Colin Kaepernick was trying to point us to,” Haynes said. "I’ll be interested to see what our local team (Dallas Cowboys) does tomorrow.”
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