New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - The NFL will not issue any discipline to five St. Louis Rams players who displayed a show of support to the protesters in nearby Ferguson, Missouri prior to Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders.
As the Rams' offense was introduced, wide receivers Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, Kenny Britt and Chris Givens and tight end Jared Cook all stood together and raised their arms to pay homage to those who protested a recent grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting African-American teenager Michael Brown in August.
The verdict triggered a wave of riots and looting in the St. Louis suburb.
The St. Louis Police Officers Association condemned the players' actions while calling upon the NFL to hand out some sort of punishment, but the league denied that request in a statement issued Monday.
"We respect and understand the concerns of all individuals who have expressed views on this tragic situation," NFL vice president of communications Brian McCarthy said in the statement.
Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said after his team's 52-0 win over the Raiders that he was unaware of the players' intentions to conduct the gesture, which drew the ire of SLPOA and prompted the organization to demand a public apology from the NFL.
"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," the SLPOA stated.
"I know that there are those that will say that these players are simply exercising their First Amendment rights," said SLPOA business manager Jeff Roorda. "Well, I've got news for people who think that way -- cops have first amendment rights, too, and we plan to exercise ours. I'd remind the NFL and their players that it is not the violent thugs burning down buildings that buy their advertiser's products. It's cops and the good people of St. Louis and other NFL towns that do. Somebody needs to throw a flag on this play. If it's not the NFL and the Rams, then it'll be cops and their supporters."