Kneeling before the national anthem is just playing both sides of the fence.

By Jimmy Traina
September 29, 2017

1. Personally, I was uncomfortable Thursday night when CBS made this whole national anthem controversy about Aaron Rodgers -- a white player -- and a call for unity. The big story, according to CBS, was that Rodgers wanted everyone in the stadium, players and fans, to lock arms for a show of unity. Unity was not why Colin Kapernick took a knee during the national anthem last season. Rodgers being lauded for his idea shows how far this issue has spun into a totally different place.

This is what Kaepernick said last year after a camera caught him kneeling during the anthem for the very first time: "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

If Rodgers wants to make an impact, he should speak out about racial inequality, not unity. And I'm not picking on Rodgers here. This goes for every NFL player, coach, GM, owner and broadcaster. Stop talking about unity. Doing nothing at this point would be more helpful than just making these complicated waters murkier by pivoting to unity. The same thing goes for Drew Brees -- shocker, another white player -- who tweeted this Friday morning.

Again, using a phrase like, "show respect to all" sounds good and is intended to make everyone happy. Of course, it does not address racial inequality. So this becomes another layer that gets further away from Kaepernick's original intention.

The Saints -- like the Cowboys' did earlier this week when they kneeled before the national anthem, but stood during the playing of the song -- are just trying to play both sides of the fence. Either take a knee during the anthem or stand for the anthem. Kneeling before the anthem and then standing for it -- or locking arms during it -- is the biggest cop out possible. It's saying, "This is a really difficult subject and everyone, including our owner, the President of the United States and fans are pissed off at us and we don't really want to bring light to what Kaepernick's point was because it's a very uncomfortable subject, so we'll just keep everyone happy with this empty feel-good gesture.

Fortunately, there are people like former Texans running back, Arian Foster, to drop some truth on Brees.

So much for "unity."

2. As for the theory that fans were going to turn away from the NFL in droves after the increase in national anthem protests last week, the rating for last night's Bears-Packers game was up six percent over the Week 4 Thursday night game in 2016.

3. The big story in the Bears-Packers game was the vicious cheap shot that Chicago linebacker Danny Trevathan laid on Davante Adams. Trevathan's Wikipedia page immediately got updated after the hit.

4Former wide Ravens and Panthers wide receiver needs to get a network analyst job, ASAP.

5On the newest Off The Board podcast, I talked about my night at the Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 9 premiere and how I embarrassed myself at the after party by trying to get a picture with Larry David. After that segment, Robert Seidman, the man behind the @SportsTVRatings Twitter account, joined the show to talk about what's going on with the NFL's ratings. The show then ends with me and my SI.com colleague, Daniel Rapaport, both coming off 3-1 weeks in Week 3, giving our Week 4 NFL picks. You can listen below or on iTunesSoundCloud and Stitcher.

6. I told you on Thursday that the Yankees new dugout celebration for home runs was outstanding. The show went on last night and, thanks to Ronald Torreyes' work as the cameraman, it actually has a name: The Toe Night Show

7. Julia Louis-Dreyfus is an icon thanks to Seinfeld and Veep, but I've said this before and I'll say it again: She absolutely stole the show during David Letterman final show with the delivery of her classic Top 10 List line. Get well soon, Julia.

 

8. RANDOM WRESTLING VIDEO OF THE DAY: With the NHL season beginning on Wednesday, I'd just like to say that I still don't understand how The Goon didn't get over. 

The best of the Internet, plus musings by SI.com writer, Jimmy Traina. Get the link to a new Traina's Thoughts each day by following on Twitter and liking on Facebook. Catch up on previous editions of Traina Thoughts. And check Jimmy Traina's weekly podcast, "Off The Board," on iTunes, SoundCloud and Stitcher.

BONUS ITEM: Your Saturday college football winner is Virginia Tech +7 at home against Clemson.

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