Russell Okung raises a fist to protest national anthem

Los Angeles Chargers offensive lineman Russell Okung stood with his fist raised during the national anthem Saturday before a preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals game at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

Who is Russell Okung?

Russell Okung is the starting left tackle for the Los Angeles Chargers. He’s been in the NFL for nine seasons. He was drafted out of Oklahoma State in 2009 by the Seattle Seahawks in the first round with the sixth overall pick. He played for the Seahawks for six seasons. He then played one season for the Denver Broncos in 2016 before joining the Chargers in 2017. He currently makes over $12 million a season in the NFL. He’s the highest paid left tackle in the NFL.

Okung was born to Nigerian immigrants. Even though his parents were welcomed to this country with open arms and he enjoyed many opportunities here, he somehow believes this country is unjust.

I don’t get that. If there’s anyone who should be singing the praises of the United States, it’s someone like Russell Okung. Would he have preferred his parents not to come here and instead stayed in Nigeria? Where else in the world could he make $12 million a year with his particular set of talents? Even if he wasn’t really good at throwing blocks against other men his size who also possessed strength and speed similar to his own, where else in the world would he rather live?

Americans should be able to protest

I don’t even have a problem with Okung protesting. If that’s the way he feels, that’s the way he feels. If he wants to protest against the country in which he lives and provided him the opportunities he has made the most of, he should be able to do that.

I have a problem with the time and venue he chooses to carry out his protest. He picks a time and place where thousands of other Americans are honoring our country. What Okung and other NFL players are doing during the national anthem is just plain rude.

It’s rude to everyone else in the stadium.
It’s rude to the people watching on TV.
It’s rude to the people who learn about it after the fact.

Players who want to protest against the United States should do it on their own time

If players like Okung want to protest against the United States, they should not do it on the sidelines of an NFL game. They should not do it wearing their NFL uniform. When they’re on the sidelines and wearing their uniform, they’re representing the NFL and their team.  When people pay to go to an NFL game or when they watch it on TV, they’re not doing it to watch millionaires protest against the United States. They do it because they want to watch football.

If players like Okung cannot respect their country then they should at least respect the fans, the people who make it possible for them to do what they’re paid so handsomely to do.