“Unfortunately, I also know that racism still exists in our country, as it does in every other country on this planet, and I hate that I know that. I hate the third verse of our national anthem, but thankfully we don’t sing that verse anymore. I hate that at times I feel guilty for being white.
…I am in no way political, but I’m proud that we have an African-American president, and that I got to serve under him. Overcoming racism at home is a slow process, and we still have a long way to go, but most of us are trying. That’s what sets us apart from so many other places. In this country, no matter who you are, where you come from, what color you are, you can try.
…The only time I got to stand on the sideline for the anthem was during my one and only NFL preseason game, against the Denver Broncos. As I ran out of the tunnel with the American flag I could feel myself swelling with pride, and as I stood on the sideline with my hand on my heart as the anthem began, that swelling burst into tears.
…That moment meant so much more to me than even playing in the game did, and to be honest, if I had noticed my teammate sitting on the bench, it would have really hurt me.
…I’m not judging you for standing up for what you believe in. It’s your inalienable right. What you are doing takes a lot of courage, and I’d be lying if I said I knew what it was like to walk around in your shoes. I’ve never had to deal with prejudice because of the color of my skin, and for me to say I can relate to what you’ve gone through is as ignorant as someone who’s never been in a combat zone telling me they understand what it’s like to go to war.
Even though my initial reaction to your protest was one of anger, I’m trying to listen to what you’re saying and why you’re doing it. When I told my mom about this article, she cautioned me that “the last thing our country needed right now was more hate.” As usual, she’s right.
…I look forward to the day you’re inspired to once again stand during our national anthem. I’ll be standing right there next to you. Keep on trying … De Oppresso Liber.”