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Dang it. This has been a tough last few days.
It started out good. Friday we had some of the greatest games of the year all across the Local County News coverage area. Then, it was a normal Husker Saturday that ended with a win and the boys in red moving to 4-0. But that’s about the point where it ended.
First, pictures start to surface of three Husker players kneeling during the national anthem, an issue I thought would be largely avoided because they don’t often have the players on the field during the anthem in college. Then, word got out that Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez died in a boat accident early Sunday morning. Not long after, we learn that golf legend Arnold Palmer had passed. Then Nebraska Cornhusker legend Milt Tenopir passed away after a battle with cancer. Finally, we had to sit through possibly the most childish debate in recent history.
I’m not going to touch that last one. We all know how that is going to turn out.
However, the rest really got to me. The kneeling players, as I have said before, are putting into action a right that they have been given by the constitution. That part did not bother me. It’s better than some of the other options they could use to protest.
Two things did bother me though. While those three kneeled and subsequently were given endless media coverage - I’ve watched this get talked about on repeat on Big Ten Network for days - there was four other players that jumped up to help spread the flag across the field. They showed their pride in their flag and their country, and yet the only coverage I’ve seen of that is a few retweets on Twitter. That’s a double standard, defined.
The other part that bothered me was the reactions they received. One of the players, Michael Rose-Ivey, said in a statement that they received death threats towards both the players and their families. I have seen people, on Twitter, Facebook and other social media, say these players don’t deserve to play football anymore. A Board of Regents member was quoted in a national paper saying these players don’t deserve to play football anymore.
Really? Both of those reactions are completely and utterly unacceptable. Never, ever, ever should you make a threat towards another human being, especially not for peacefully expressing their beliefs. Whether you agree or not. Never, ever, ever should you think a players beliefs should align with yours to compete for your entertainment. Never.
Moving on. The three deaths simply seemed to compound on each other. While I’m not a Marlins fan, I certainly appreciated the talent of Jose Fernandez. He made one of the smoothest plays in baseball history when he snagged a line drive from Troy Tulowitzki in 2013. It was so casual, you’d have thought Tulowitzki lobbed the ball to him. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and look it up. He was a budding star that had an all-star future ahead of him.
Many young, non-golf fans may think Arnold Palmer was simply what you get when you mix lemonade and tea, but the reality is he was arguably the greatest golfer of all time. A case can be made that he is one of the most dominant athletes, regardless of sport, ever. He was Tiger Woods before Tiger Woods. He was a once-in-a-generation talent that many in this generation, myself included, missed out on enjoying.
Possibly the least known of the three, especially outside of Nebraska, was Milt Tenopir. For those that don’t know, Tenopir was the offensive line coach of the Huskers for 29 years. He was the architect behind “The Pipeline” in the ‘90s, coached 21 all-americans and led his lines to 13 national rushing titles. He was well loved among his players and was revered by the current players and staff. He is an icon in the coaching world, even if some of us regular people are not aware of who he is.
It was certainly a tough weekend. It can only go up from here.