NFL anthem protests dominated news on Sunday as sports and politics clashed, but on Monday American athletes who play for Edmonton sports teams weighed in on the issue.
Edmonton Eskimos defensive back Aaron Grymes returned to Commonwealth Stadium for practice on Monday. The Seattle native spent the last two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles but was cut earlier this month.
On Sunday he watched his former NFL colleagues take a knee, stand locking arms, or not even take the field at all.
“I feel like you need to use your platform to speak for the people who don’t have a voice,” Grymes said Monday.
“Guys have different political beliefs. Some guys support it, some guys don’t, but no matter what they still had their brothers’ backs.”
The protests started last year after San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the American national anthem.
At the time, Kaepernick cited numerous reasons for his actions, ranging from racial injustice and oppression of minorities to police brutality and the treatment of military veterans.
Over the weekend, U.S. President Donald Trump said pro athletes protesting the American flag at games should be “fired.”
In response, the anthem protests were ramped up on NFL Sunday, with close to 200 players taking part.
On Monday, Trump tweeted: “The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!”
At the Eskimos practice, reporters asked players about their responses to Trump’s comments and the protests.
“I knew he [Donald Trump] was going to be on this since Day 1,” said Jamill Smith, Sr., an Eskimos wide receiver listed on the practice squad. “He hasn’t hid any of his comments. He hasn’t hid how he thinks.”
Smith, Sr. grew up in Muncie, Ind. a place where he says the presence of the Ku Klux Klan still exists. His grandfather and great grandfather were both pastors involved in civil rights activism.
For Smith, Sr., the anthem protests bring attention to social issues that otherwise wouldn’t be discussed by a large audience.
“If it was just poor people being treated unfairly down…