Football

NC rapper J. Cole tweets support for NFL players kneeling during anthem in protest

J. Cole watches during the second half of N.C. State's 81-79 victory over Georgia Southern at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C., Friday, Nov. 11, 2016.
J. Cole watches during the second half of N.C. State's 81-79 victory over Georgia Southern at the PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C., Friday, Nov. 11, 2016. ehyman@newsobserver.com

North Carolina rapper J. Cole took to Twitter on Sunday in support of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.

Players kneeling is believed to be in solidarity against President Donald Trump’s recent comments on protests during the national anthem.

In a speech at a rally in Huntsville, Ala., on Sept. 22, Trump called out NFL players who sit during the national anthem.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ‘Get that son of a b---- off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,’ ” said Trump, whose remarks were met with applause.

Cole has shown his support in the past for Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who started the trend of kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner” last season.

The multi-platinum Fayetteville rapper sent out a multi-tweet thread on Sunday about the protests. Cole has also criticized the Baltimore Ravens and other teams for not signing Kaepernick and has long been an outspoken critic of police brutality on and off his tracks.

“Got mad s--- I shoulda tweeted over the months (or years?) but didn’t. I’ll do better,” Cole began, acknowledging that he rarely posts to social media himself. “God bless every player that finds courage to kneel today. But the real power comes from you deciding to not watch. Your eyes translate to advertising money for the League and it’s (sic) owners.

“Same ones who speak out against Trump today are the same ones that denied a qualified man a job because he took a stand against injustice. You and me have the power to deny them our attention ($$ to them) until they make a wrong situation right.”

More than a dozen Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars players knelt during the national anthem before Sunday’s game. Many held hands or linked arms.

Cole had a suggestion for how to make it right.

“Hire third-party investigator approved by NFLPA to determine if Kap was denied a job unfairly as punishment for his stance ... And compensate the man for his losses if they determine he was.”

Cole said, “I know there are people smarter than me with better answers” and “Bare with me, I’m just a rapper,” before continuing with his tweets to his nearly 10 million followers, saying people have a choice of how they respond to the NFL’s treatment of Kaepernick.

“If a boycott doesn’t force them to action, don’t even trip. This is where the real flex happens,” he wrote. “Black people spend a lot of money with NFL corporate sponsors. White people who don’t f--- with white supremacy spend a lot of money too.”

Cole encouraged people to avoid spending money on NFL sponsors who don’t support the players “speaking out against oppression.”

“That’s when the magic happens. And sadly, in this capitalistic world we live in, that’s when your voice is heard. When you hurt the pockets,” he wrote. “I respect whatever you decide to do. Watch or don’t watch, whatever’s in your heart. But I’m not watching ’til it feel right.

“Some of us got grandparents that walked miles to work instead of riding bus, just to show the bus companies that they won’t tolerate racism. So when I think about it like that, it’s very easy on Sunday to say, ‘Nope, I’m straight.’ This may be the biggest opportunity we have ever been presented to come together and show the world and ourselves our true economic power.”

Cole’s tweets were shared thousands of times within minutes of him posting them.

Bruce Maxwell of the Oakland Athletics was the first MLB player to kneel during the anthem. NFL players in London knelt for the U.S. anthem but stood for the British anthem. All but one of the Pittsburgh Steelers stayed in the locker room during the anthem.

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