Few men who have played in the National Football League have spoken out on social issues with the eloquence of Baltimore Ravens’ tight end Ben Watson, who has now weighed in on the Colin Kaepernick controversy.
Watson, a devout Christian and father of five whose upcoming season was lost last month when he suffered a torn Achilles tendon in a preseason game, is the author of "Under Our Skin: Getting Real About Race--And Getting Free From the Fears and Frustrations That Divide Us."
Watson's essay on racially charged events in Ferguson, Mo., two years ago went viral, as did a post he wrote following the terror attacks in Paris last fall.
On Monday, Watson wrote from his hospital bed on the controversy sparked when fellow NFL player Kaepernick announced he would not stand for the National Anthem. Watson’s entire post can be viewed here, but below are key excerpts:
“I will not have the option to kneel this Sunday while the National Anthem is being played. A week ago, in what would prove to be my last pre-game opportunity of this 2016 season, I stood with my right hand over my heart as the anthem played. And if I am fortunate enough to ever be dressed for another game day I imagine I would be doing the same thing I did in my last. Standing. Not because America is ALL I desire it to be because most assuredly it is not. Racism still stews, families are fractured, the unborn are trashed, schools are struggling, religious freedom is increasingly under attack, violence pollutes our cities and our suburbs, and there is a growing divide between law enforcement and the community.”
Watson stops well short of condemning Kaepernick, but goes on to make clear that if he is able to recover and take the field in 2017, he will be on his feet for the Star-Spangled Banner.
“I stand, because this mixed bag of evil and good is MY home. And because it's MY home my standing is a pledge to continue the fight against all injustice and preserve the greatest attributes of the country, including Colin Kaepernick's right to kneel.”