• Brian L. Barefield

If I Have To Beg And Plead: Bengals owner begged players not to knee before a game during 2017.

It is one thing to be oblivious to things going on around you. It is another to try and ignore it and make it go away. That had to be the mindset of Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown during the beginning of the 2017 NFL season. According to Elise Jesse of WLWT, the owner begged his players not to take a knee before a game against the Green Bay Packers.

The majority of the African American players wanted to show solidarity with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick who silently protested the killing of unarmed civilians by law enforcement officials in America during the national anthem the previous year.

"A lot of people, myself in particular, wanted to kneel,” former Bengals player George Iloka told Jesse. “It was a big issue and that was weighing heavily on my heart, it was weighing heavy on my mind, and obviously it was weighing heavy on a lot of people's hearts and minds across the NFL, and across the nation particularly with African Americans. It wasn’t just me that felt some kind away about that."

Iloka, a native Houstonian had his sentiments echoed by other players who were involved in that players only meeting that the owner found himself a part of. Several players who spoke with Jessie on the condition of anonymity told the reporter that the owner “begged” the players not to do it for fear of the backlash he would receive from the fans.

The Bengals organization has a different outlook on the meeting that took place.

“Mr. Brown met with all players while the team was in Green Bay,” a team spokesperson said in a written statement to WLWT. “A positive and open discussion ensued. Mr. Brown shared with players his preference, but said he was not directing them what to do.”

The players decided not to take a knee that day and some current and former players say they regret the decision not too. They knew the repercussions of what would have happened if they went against their owner and chose to stand with their arms linked with their teammates.

"That's the biggest regret I have is not taking a knee that day because I was just so scared to do it,” said former Bengals player Preston Brown. “I know what could happen afterwards. You have to play this role as an athlete and toe the line to make sure they still like you. I can't be all the way black."

So, wait. Fear of the backlash the owner would receive from the players taking a knee bothered him to the point that he had to beg them not too, right? But all the legal trouble from the players in the past that has been a plague on that organization didn’t cause the loss of any fans? So, what I am hearing is that it is ok to get in trouble with the law, just don’t protest their tactics? Got it.

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