Sunday was a day like no other in the National Football League.
I was standing on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium when a news alert came across my phone. The Pittsburgh Steelers would stay in the locker room during the National Anthem.
Stunned and heartsick, I looked around our stadium as the fans began to fill the seats wondering what the day would hold.
I was still on the field when the National Anthem began. As I stood watching, a chorus of boos broke out. At first, I was shocked. Who would boo during the anthem? I looked down the field and saw Browns players on one knee. I didn’t find out until afterwards that there were Colts players kneeling as well.
When I finished gathering my stories and made it up to my seat, my mom was teary. Not because of the players who took a knee, but because of the boos that rained down from above.
“I never thought I would hear booing during our National Anthem,” she said.
And neither did I.
Sports are a reflection of society and this is where we are – more divided than ever. And not just on the football field.
We will air this Unity spot in tonight’s game. It reflects the unifying force of our great game, our players & clubs https://t.co/b6AOOLihKl
— Roger Goodell (@nflcommish) September 24, 2017
How many neighbors quit talking to each other after the last election? How many families can’t discuss politics around the dinner table? The NFL is a family. And just like your family, different people have different opinions about what’s happening in our country and our world.
We didn’t arrive here overnight and we won’t fix it overnight. But one thing is clear – we have to stop looking for someone to bring us together. We’ve been doing that for too long – and in the process, we’re only being pulled farther and farther apart.
Some people watched Sunday’s game and saw a team and a fan base divided. I saw a team that linked arms in support of each other, some players standing, some kneeling, and then went out and worked together to win a football game – while the fans cheered them on.
Bigger than football. pic.twitter.com/3nMzaCdOhx
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) September 24, 2017
As a society, we need to find a way to do the same thing. It’s up to us to come together. And maybe, just maybe – like it has so many times, football can help us do that.
We’re going to have different leaders and different players, tides will turn, games will change and so will the times.
But at the end of the day, we’re all we’ve got.
There’s a lot of noise out there right now.But the sound I heard loudest on Sunday was the voice of a fan base cheering on their team.
And that’s a pretty good start.