Jermaine Kearse was far from pleased last week when he heard the details of the NFL’s new policy on the national anthem.
The veteran wide receiver and his New York Jets teammates couldn’t be happier Jordy Nelson Jersey , though, to have the full support of acting owner Christopher Johnson.
”For me personally, I’m very appreciative of him,” Kearse said after practice Tuesday. ”I think he kind of gets it.”
NFL owners voted last Wednesday to require players to stand for the anthem or stay in the locker room. Teams will be fined if players don’t stand. Some players have been kneeling during the playing of ”The Star-Spangled Banner” before games the last two seasons to protest police brutality and racial inequality.
”Honestly, I’m disappointed,” Kearse said. ”I think they’re kind of missing the point. For us as a team, I think if you’ve paid attention, nobody on our team kneeled, but that doesn’t mean we don’t support the causes of why people are kneeling.”
Johnson said shortly after the league announced the policy that he will not punish his players for any peaceful protests – and would pay any potential fines incurred by the team as a result of his players’ actions.
”To me, honestly, the conversation about whether players are kneeling or not, I felt like that conversation was dying and it didn’t get brought up until they decided to make the rules,” Kearse said. ”So, I think we’re kind of getting away from the actual cause. I think we’re starting to focus on the kneeling part rather than the cause behind it.
”I wish they would be more like Chris, to be quite honest, and support the players and actively be involved and have those conversations with their players.”
Added coach Todd Bowles: ”It’s always nice to have the owner have your back. It’s about the issues for us. We didn’t have a problem a year ago. We’ll continue to talk as a group Michael Pierce Jersey , as a team and as an organization, and go forward from there.”
Left tackle Kelvin Beachum echoed Kearse’s sentiments about the NFL’s new policy. Beachum and quarterback Josh McCown are part of the Players Coalition, an advocacy group of NFL players that has had discussions with league owners on social matters.
”It is disappointing, but it is what it is at this point,” Beachum said. ”We’ve been talking about this issue for a number of years and the league finally made a decision. We’re going to still continue to do the work. Our owner supports us in doing that work and he’s with us as we’re doing that work. So we’re not going to keep talking this game and keep talking about the anthem. We’re actually going to do something about it and go find a solution.”
Johnson met with the entire team last week and explained to the players why he voted in favor of the new NFL rule – only San Francisco’s Jed York abstained – while also assuring them they would not be punished by the team if they did not adhere to the league’s policy.
”He’s very supportive of us,” Kearse said. ”I mean, whether guys choose to or not, he supports our decision – their decision – but like I said, nobody last year kneeled. The fact that he’ll support us any way he can is a very gratifying feeling.”
Johnson took over the day-to-day operations of the team last June from his brother Woody, who is serving as the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom in President Donald Trump’s administration. Trump frequently has been critical of players who have protested during the anthem, so it would appear a tough spot for the younger Johnson while balancing business, politics and family.
But Christopher Johnson immediately earned his players’ respect last year when he went up to each one in the Jets’ locker room before the team’s home opener against Miami in September and asked if he could stand with them in unity.
Johnson, the players and the coaches stood – arms locked – on the sideline before every remaining game. Several players pointed to the owner’s actions as playing a large role in establishing cohesiveness on a team that stuck together despite a 5-11 record.
But Johnson’s latest stance has become a polarizing issue with some Jets fans and even politicians saying the owner’s support of a player potentially protesting during the anthem is misguided.
”It’s great that he stuck his neck out there,” linebacker Darron Lee said, ”because I know a lot of people feel passionate about that.”
New York Rep. Pete King wrote on Twitter on Saturday that it was ”disgraceful” that Johnson would pay fines for players who would kneel during the anthem. King added that Johnson’s decision was ”encouraging a movement premised on lies vs. police.”
”Would he support all player protests?” King continued. ”Would he pay fines of players giving Nazi salutes or spew racism? It’s time to say goodbye to Jets!”
The Jets have not decided what they will do this year during the national anthem, but Lee said if he had to take ”an educated guess Kareem Martin Jersey ,” he thinks the team will lock arms again. Beachum and Kearse stressed that unity is the top priority with the Jets.
”I think it’s very important that no matter what we do, that we do it together,” Kearse said. ”We’re a locker room with different personalities, different thoughts, so not everybody thinks the same. Whatever we choose to do, if we can do it collectively,
The ink was barely dry on his contract when Ryan Donato played his first professional game.
Three days after his junior season at Harvard ended, Donato joined the Boston Bruins‘ lineup in the middle of a playoff chase in a top-six role with a spot on the power play.
No pressure, kid.
”I definitely had to learn quickly,” Donato said. ”Every game is important, so it had to click right away. I really didn’t have a choice.”
Such is the task for Donato and a handful of other young prospects joining contenders in the eleventh hour of the NHL season. It has become common for teams with no postseason hopes to sign players out of school and play them late in the regular season like Vancouver did with Brock Boeser and Arizona with Clayton Keller a year ago.
This season, some top teams are taking the chance, too.
Just as the Bruins added Donato, Minnesota signed Jordan Greenway after his season at Boston University, Anaheim signed Troy Terry after the University of Denver was out of the NCAA Tournament and Nashville brought over Eeli Tolvanen from Europe after a full year in the Kontinental Hockey League – young talent added for the playoffs without the teams giving up anything, though coaches must now integrate a new player late in the season.
”It’s tough if the kids aren’t good Kyle Lauletta Jersey ,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. ”With our team right now in the midst of this race, every little defensive situation has got to be done right.”
Every shift is magnified this time of year, adding to the burden of trying to learn a team’s system. Donato, Greenway and Terry went right from college to the NHL, and Tolvanen had to adjust on the fly from the wider, European ice as Nashville tries to shore up home ice throughout the playoffs.
”It’s kind of tough to come in the middle of the season and just jump in and you don’t know all the guys,” Tolvanen said. ”You have to do it at some point, so I think it’s a pretty good spot that I came a couple games before the playoffs.”
Tolvanen benefited from two rounds of KHL playoffs with Jokerit and carried that intensity across the pond, while Terry and Greenway got a taste of playoff action in the NCAA Tournament. Donato’s season playing for his dad and former NHL forward Ted ended, and he suddenly had to ramp things up to carry a big load for Boston amid injuries to Rick Nash and others.
Donato knew he couldn’t take a shift or a game off and has stepped up with seven points in his first nine games. Coach Bruce Cassidy wasn’t worried about getting the soon-to-be 22-year-old up to speed as much as seeing if Donato could handle the size, speed and pace of the NHL.
”Most of these kids that come in are offensive-minded guys, so are they going to be able to make their plays and handle a man’s game?” Cassidy said. ”And he’s shown he’s able to do that.”
Donato certainly had a body of work coming in, including leading the United States and tying for the tournament lead with five goals at the Olympics without NHL players. The other three young, late-season additions – all of whom also stood out at the Olympics – are being eased in.
”We didn’t really do anything at the trade deadline because we knew that we were going to get Jordan Greenway,” Boudreau said. ”He’s gone through the Olympics and the world juniors all in the last year, so he knows what a little bit of pressure is all about. Playing at BU Bruce Smith Jersey , he’s always (on) one of the better teams playing in important games. We pretty well thought he could handle all this.”
Nashville is betting Tolvanen can handle it, too. The impressive Finnish winger set a KHL record with 36 points as an 18-year-old and looked increasingly more comfortable in his first three games for the Predators, who have their sights set on a return trip to the Stanley Cup Final.
”It’s important for him to see ice time before the playoffs,” coach Peter Laviolette said. ”The playoffs are a long haul. I think we learned that last year that you need a lot of people and a lot of parts and it’s important to get him involved in the game, with the team, in the systems.”
Predators general manager David Poile recalled making one trade too many at a previous deadline and messing with his team’s chemistry.
”You have to be careful on both sides because you don’t want to put a young player in a position to fail,” Poile said. ”You want to put him in a position to succeed. You also are very respectful of the players that have been with you all season long. It’s also OK to have depth but you don’t want to move everybody’s cheese too much.”
In Boston, it helps that Donato is filling a spot vacated by injuries and showing immediately he belongs. In Nashville, Tolvanen’s reputation preceded him for anyone who saw what he did as one of the leading scorers at the Olympics.
”It’s a special situation when somebody comes in this late and joins the team and under different circumstances, but it’s been great,” starting goaltender and fellow Finn Pekka Rinne said. ”Certainly it adds a new, special element to our team. I think it’s going to be beneficial down the road.”
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