Instead of focusing on whether NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick is right or wrong to remain seated during the national anthem as a form of protest, Benjamin Watson is defending his decision to honor "The Star Spangled Banner."
As Watson recovers from a torn achilles that is keeping him off the football field, the Baltimore Ravens tight end is revealing the importance of standing during the singing of the national anthem.
"If I am fortunate enough to ever be dressed for another game day I imagine I would be doing the same thing I did in my last. Standing," Watson wrote in a lengthy Facebook post on Monday. "Not because America is ALL I desire it to be, because most assuredly it is not. Racism still stews, families are fractured, the unborn are trashed, schools are struggling, religious freedom is increasingly under attack, violence pollutes our cities and our suburbs, and there is a growing divide between law enforcement and the community."
Watson revealed that he comes from a Navy town and has had very personal encounters with people in the military. He further explained his reasoning for honoring the American flag during the national anthem by looking into the nation's past where people endured hardships so that he could have the opportunity to stand for "The Star Spangled Banner."
"I stand because as a child, I saw my father stand. A man who lived the tumultuous transition from 'separate but equal' to the times surrounding the Civil Rights Act when angry people who held signs at his new school viciously screamed 'N**GER GO HOME," Watson wrote. "I stand because on the contrary, no one held such a sign when I walked into my grade school. Before competition, as I stand in shoulder pads and cleats, my helmet in my left hand, adrenaline flowing and my heart raging under my right, I never forget the ills of America but for a moment I envision its potential, remember its prosperity and give thanks to God for the land He has placed me in and the people I love who live in it."
Watson's sentiments come after Kaepernick first announced last month that he plans to sit during every performance of "The Star Spangled Banner" at NFL games to represent "people that are being oppressed" has led to much public debate among sports analysts and other athletes.
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way," Kaepernick told NFL Media. "There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder. I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed. ... If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right."
Even though Watson has decided not to take the same approach as Kaepernick, he did acknowledge his fellow football player's right to protest.
"His actions and similar actions by figures of the past and present are a vital part of our journey and a key component of the equation for social change and should be respected as such. From the country's inception, such displays against the status quo are distinctly American," Watson wrote. "My hope, though, is that these actions bring more attention to the PROBLEM than to the PROTESTER. And that ensuing dialog discover truth and that truth give birth to justice in legitimate situations where there is none."