Though no Ohio State football player has kneeled during the national anthem to oppose racial inequality and police brutality, redshirt senior quarterback J.T. Barrett and senior defensive end Jalyn Holmes have taken notice to the protests.
Holmes said some players on the team have discussed the topic, but they have not made plans to kneel during the national anthem. However, the first-time captain said he would consider it.
“We haven’t talked about it, but I would be open to it, really,” Holmes said.
Many NFL players kneeled during the national anthem and some full teams did not come out of the locker room Sunday and Monday night following comments President Donald Trump made about those protesting during the national anthem.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired,’” Trump said at a rally in Alabama Friday evening.
Barrett said he believes Trump was misguided with his comments because he does not believe the protests are intended to disrespect the flag, national anthem or country.
“It’s not anything toward the national anthem or the United States, it was more of … having the right and the freedom because we’re home of the free, land of the brave,” Barrett said. “I saw comments that President Trump said and it was like, what are you talking about? That’s why we’re the United States. We have the ability, the freedom of speech, the freedom to protest wherever you want.”
Barrett, a highly-respected leader who was named the first three-time team captain in program history, comes from a military family. Both his parents, Stacy and Joe, served in the Army. Barrett declined to divulge whether he would consider kneeling for the national anthem, but made clear he disagreed with Trump’s portrayal of the issue.
“The fact that he kind of, I guess, tried to quiet people down and try to silence that was really wild to me,” Barrett said.
— Lantern TV (@LanternTV) September 26, 2017
Holmes said he thinks people have misconstrued the issues, agreeing with Barrett’s perspective.
“I feel like when people choose to focus on what they’re doing and not why they’re doing it,” Holmes said. “They don’t want to admit what’s really going on. It’s a lot of social injustice and discrimination going on in this country and I understand why they’re doing it because I’ve been a victim of both growing up where I’m from.
“If that’s a way to get people’s attention to see what’s really going on in the country, keep doing it.”
Not everyone agrees with Holmes’ openness to kneeling during the national anthem.
Nine minutes after Lantern TV posted a video of Barrett’s comments on Twitter which was retweeted by the starting quarterback, sophomore defensive end Nick Bosa, who has posted tweets supporting president Donald Trump, sent a tweet of a picture with an American flag and a soldier kneeling, which said, “We stand for the flag. We kneel for the fallen.”
— Nick Bosa (@nbsmallerbear) September 26, 2017
At a press conference Monday and during the Big Ten coaches teleconference Tuesday, coach Urban Meyer preached respect for everyone’s opinions, while declining to comment whether or not he would allow his players to protest during the anthem.
“A culture of team, a culture of respect and a culture of focus. And so, I was unaware that anything was going on until yesterday,” Meyer said Tuesday. “I’ll talk to some players and we’ll do what we normally do after a conversation and I’ll let people have their opinions and never cross the ‘r-word’, which is respect.”
The team often discusses each individual controlling what they can, Holmes said. Instead of kneeling, the defensive end sees impacting the community as the best way to force change.
“The way I can control from here is just give back to the community the best way I can because there’s no point in taking a knee for that if you are not just really building a community with it. You’re just doing it just because it’s cool,” Holmes said. “You’ve got to do it with a purpose.”