On Monday, four NHL players became the first active players to kneel for both the American and Canadian national anthems.
That happened before a playoff matchup between the Las Vegas Golden Knights and Dallas Stars. The group of Robin Lehner, Tyler Seguin and Jason Dickson was led in protest by Vegas right winger Ryan Reaves. Three of the players who knelt were Canadian, while Lehner is Swedish.
Reaves received vocal support on Twitter from his brother, current Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive lineman and special teams’ ace Jordan Reaves.
“WHO ELSE MAD AT IT!?!,” Reaves challenged his brother’s critics Monday. “Proud of y’all, keep this going.”
The two are the sons of Winnipeg Blue Bomber legend and former CFL Most Outstanding Player Willard Reaves. While the brothers took different sporting paths, when asked about his family’s influence on his decision to kneel, Reaves said Jordan was a key supporter.
“I talked to my brother quite a few times, not so much my dad. My brother is a little bit more passionate about the subject, just from listening to him. I’ve talked to him a ton,” the physical forward told reporters post-game.
He also emphasized that the statement was in opposition to racial inequality, not a means of disrespecting the military.
“I have the utmost respect for everybody that’s gone over and fought and died for the freedom of this country. Bill Foley our owner is one of the best guys I’ve ever met, and he’s a military guy. So that’s not the message I’m trying to send,” Reaves said.
“But at the same time, those people go across seas, and they go to war, and families are torn apart in these wars for the freedom of this country only to come back and find out this country isn’t free for everybody. That’s where I’m coming from. Not everybody is truly free in this country.”
Jordan Reaves retweeted his brother’s interview with obvious pride.
“Proud of you boys. KEEP THIS ENERGY!,” he encouraged.
It remains to be seen if there will be a shortened 2020 CFL season, but as social justice activism continues to sweep the sporting world it seems likely there will be some form of player protest against racial inequality once play resumes. Jordan Reaves has already helped his brother spark change in the NHL, now he could lead the charge for the Riders.