It doesn’t sound as if Hamilton Tiger-Cat players will be making a public display of support for their NFL brethren who have been protesting the recent comments by U.S. president Donald Trump.
At a Friday night rally in Alabama, Trump told the crowd: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now! Out! He’s fired. Fired!’” In response, more than 200 NFL players knelt or sat on a bench or took other actions during the anthems at games Sunday.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders, who took on the Calgary Stampeders on Sunday afternoon, linked arms during the Canadian national anthem in what players called a show of solidarity. The team, the CFL and players’ association all sent out statements supporting the players.
But Hamilton head coach June Jones largely sidestepped the issue when asked for his thoughts on Tuesday.
“I have my own personal thoughts on it but it doesn’t do any good for me to share my feelings on it,” Jones said. “Privately, I’ll talk to the kids about it but the bottom line is that we’re interested in what’s going on here, in this locker room, on this football field.”
Defensive tackle Davon Coleman, who was born in Cleveland and played his college football at Arizona State said he agreed with NFL players who knelt on Sunday and with the Riders’ gesture.
“I liked it. Instead of them disrespecting the Canadian national anthem, it was a sign of solidarity,” Coleman said. “We’re in Canada and it’s difficult to put a message out from up here – I think that would be disrespectful. I wouldn’t kneel during the Canadian anthem.”
Linebacker Simoni Lawrence said he has concerns with how Trump is dividing the country but believes that racial tensions are not as significant north of the border.
“We have a great league here and we live in Canada and the issues aren’t the same here. It’s diverse and everybody respects each other as a human being. It’s not as divided, at least from what I’ve seen in the last six years I’ve lived here,” Lawrence said. “I think America could definitely learn from that.”
Both Lawrence and Coleman were unsure if the Ticats would show their support for NFL players in some way during Saturday’s game against Toronto but neither will be taking the initiative to do so.
“It can be a touchy subject so I try and stay away from it,” Coleman said. “I wouldn’t want it to create an issue with anybody here. These are my brothers.”