Brandon Marshall, Denver Bronco linebacker, kneeled down at the playing of the national anthem at the last Broncos football game. He refused to stand for the Star Bangled Banner out of protest of unequal treatment by American police of people of color.
It is Brandon Marshall’s right to do this.
It is anyone else’s right to scrutinize or criticize Marshall for his action, or to hold him in deep contempt.
Free speech means free rebuttal.
Brandon Marshall complains about unequal treatment. He ought to know. He signed a four-year, $32 million contract with the Denver Broncos, including a $10 million signing bonus, with $20 million guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $8 million.
Not a condition of equality for a person of color, or a person of non-color, in these United States.
Brandon Marshall wants equal, decent treatment from police for all people, including people of color. Brandon Marshall knows something about indecency and inequality — not as a victim, but, it seems, as a perpetrator. Brandon Marshall, according to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, intentionally made an illegal, helmet-to-helmet hit on Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, a person of color, in the last Broncos game, but the officials missed the call. At least that is what is under investigation.
Not a demonstration of equality for a person of color here.
Brandon Marshall, it seems, is unlike many other unequal athletes who are blessed with talent and discipline and the salary to go with them, who establish charitable foundations with which to raise the level of equality through sharing their largess.
What does Brandon Marshall do? He pledges $300 per tackle to charity — $32,000 this year, if he makes the same number of tackles this year as the last two seasons. On the 10% tithing standard of many religions, Marshall would be in for some $800,000. He thinks he’s a role model at $32,000.
On the equality scale, by many measures, Brandon Marshall is not the poster child for protest against inequality.
Now he sits down with the chief of Denver police and tells the chief exactly what’s wrong. The police chief politely pays attention, takes it all in, professes to the importance of listening to critics, points out that virtually all Denver policemen and policewomen do a great job every day, including respect for people of color — then asks Brandon Marshal a question: What do you suggest?
You made a statement by kneeling down. Now what?
The police chief wanted to know.
So do we.
Is there anything to Brandon Marshall other than statement-making?
Does he have any sense that Denver police have suffered during demonstrations against Denver police, while the demonstrators have not suffered at the hands of Denver police during these anti-police demonstrations?
Does Brandon Marshall acknowledge that mistakes, even lethal, intentional mistakes by a Denver police officer, are quite different from a policy of unequal treatment of minorities by the Denver Police Dept.?
Brandon Marshall says he will ride with police. Will he show at least as much commitment to learning what the police actually do, and actually face, as America’s “roastmaster general,” the comedian Jeffrey Ross? Ross rode with police for over a week just to learn how to get his jokes right, how to get police to laugh. Does Brandon Marshall also have a week for his far more serious issue?
Or is it, for Brandon Marshall, all about making statements, or helmet-to-helmet hits, or trips to the bank without detours to the charitable foundation?
Copyright © 2016 by the Intermountain Jewish News