Column: Alex Smith’s response to Trump is what the Chiefs should get behind

Quarterback Alex Smith had the right response to the president’s comments.

Kansas City Chiefs Quarterback Alex Smith (11) Courtesy of Zimbio

Since the first week of the 2016 NFL preseason — the first cited instance of Colin Kaepernick’s protest for racial equality during the Star Spangled Banner — fans in attendance and tuning in to NFL games have witnessed players throughout the league participating in various forms of protest during the national anthem.

The act has expanded far and wide, with athletes of different ages, genders, religions and races participating in the peaceful protest of police brutality and the oppression of people of color in America.

This past Sunday saw league-wide protests in response to President Donald Trump’s inflammatory comments on NFL players not standing for the anthem on Friday at a speech in Alabama.

In his comments, Trump suggested that owners should cut any player who protested during the anthem.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he’s fired,’” Trump said.

The Kansas City Chiefs, like many other franchises, saw their fair share of responses from players in Sunday’s matchup with the Chargers. Justin Houston used the anthem as a time for prayer, and Marcus Peters put his right fist up during the anthem to protest Trump’s comments.

However, the first statement made by the team came just before kickoff, with Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt releasing a message that was, simply put, a swing and a miss.

Hunt’s statement was one which did nothing more than reflect his own views, views which Hunt has hammered home before. While he was able to recognize differences of opinion and his players’ right to protest, he was unable to recognize the comments President Trump made toward a league which Clark’s own father helped build.

Multiple team owners were able to come out and acknowledge their feelings on the remarks. Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, a Trump supporter, said in a statement he was “deeply disappointed” by the tone of the president’s remarks. Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and Jaguars owner Shad Kahn, both contributors to Trump’s inauguration, were arm-in-arm with their players on Sunday to send a unified message.

Hunt’s message was a statement which failed to live up to a meaningful standard. The Chiefs’ most valuable message came instead from starting quarterback Alex Smith.

“I don’t always feel comfortable talking about a lot of this stuff,” Smith said in his postgame press conference on Sunday. “We’re athletes, we’re playing football. But certainly I’d be lying if I said the comments didn’t upset me.” Smith, like many of the owners and players around the league, is not asking for a mix of politics and football. In fact, he clearly states he’s not very comfortable discussing it. Regardless, Smith does a valuable job of stepping a line few would be very comfortable crossing on such a platform.

“The league’s not perfect,” Smith said. “But I’m definitely proud of a lot of my teammates, coaches, trainers, owners … There are so many good things, great things that go on in this league … It struck a chord a little bit to see guys get attacked for a peaceful protest “It’s the same guy who couldn’t condemn violent neo-Nazis. And he’s condemning guys taking a knee during the anthem.” Smith was also able to respect a difference of opinion amongst Chiefs players.

“I think this team has great respect for each other in the locker room,” Smith said. “We’re all our own individuals. I mean, we’re all a part of this team, but we all come from different places. It’s one thing we have talked about — it’s obviously a hot topic — that we have great respect for whatever the choice is.”

Some may get bogged down by Smith’s comments on the president himself, or some might ask him to stick to sports, but Smith’s main idea is one of value. He supports his teammates and his organization and doesn’t appreciate unjust disrespect from the commander in chief, especially when it comes on the heels of peaceful protest.

Smith’s message, unlike Hunt’s, was clear, present and, ultimately, one the Chiefs organization should get behind.

Edited by Joe Noser | jnoser@themaneater.com

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