Two different leagues. Two different countries. United by the same conversation.
“We know where we are. We’re in Canada,” Stamps defensive back Jamar Wall said. “We have to go back to the same thing that’s happening.”
It’s the reason protests across the National Football League started in the first place. To bring attention to racial inequality in the United States.
“Don’t ask me about it,” Stampeders quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell said. “I’m a privileged white guy from Katy, Texas.
“Go ask, sorry to be so blunt, but ask the black guys on our team from Chicago, Detroit, Alabama — the guys that deal with this stuff on a daily basis when they go home. That’s what this is for.”
Anthem protests in the NFL started last year when then San Francisco 49er’s QB Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the anthem.
Several players, owners and staff joined in last week, protesting in a variety of ways, in response to U.S President Donald Trump’s comments at an Alabama rally, when he implored team owners to “get that son of a bitch off the field” for protesting during the national anthem.
“When you see owners come out and get down with the players…unified to say: ‘hey, we are equal, we are together.’ That was the first step and a major statement to fighting social injustice,” said Stamps defensive back and Los Angeles, CA native Josh Bell.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders were the first CFL team to show solidarity, linking arms Sunday during the Canadian national anthem.
The Stampeders return to the sideline on Friday night, but have not formally discussed if they’ll do something similar.
“Will we do it. We don’t know. You never know. Now that the Riders did it, there might be more teams that start to do it here,” Wall said.
“No, we haven’t talked about anything, but whatever my teammates decide to do, I’ll do,” Mitchell added.
On thing is clear, if they or any other team decides to display unity during the anthem, they have the full support of the CFL. Commissioner Randy Ambrosie released the following statement on the issue this week.
“They can do what they need to do, they haven’t approached me on anything yet,” Stamps Head Coach Dave Dickenson said. “I’m all for our players supporting each other and having each others’ backs.”
But players are also adamant that the true message can’t get lost.
“Now the majority are talking about disrespecting the flag, as opposed to the social injustice,” said Bell. “We have to stay focused on the social injustice because it’s not just white and black; we have all different colours, all different races, it’s a minority thing.”
“My dad fought in Vietnam, he’s got two purple hearts and he says they have every single right to be doing what they’re doing,” Mitchell said. “It’s a conversation that needs to happen and not just a conversation but action that needs to be taken.”