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“I’d say your only other option is to take a knee.”

Published on June 8th, 2020

Four years ago, Kurt Streeter — then an ESPN writer — published a profile of Nate Boyer, an unusual football player. Boyer was homeless as a young man and later served in the Army as a Green Beret, in both Afghanistan and Iraq. For the Seattle Seahawks, he was the long-snapper, who played only on some kicks.
Boyer’s place in football history, however, won’t be about what he did on the field. It will be about the fact that he gave Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid the idea to protest police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem. Boyer, who’s white, said he would never kneel during the anthem. But he thought it was a symbol of reverence and had seen a photo of Martin Luther King Jr. protesting in Alabama by kneeling.
If you’re not going to stand,” Boyer remembers telling Kaepernick and Reid, as the three of them sat in a hotel lobby, hours before a game in 2016, “I’d say your only other option is to take a knee.”
Kurt has since left ESPN for The Times, and he has written an article about how kneeling spread from the N.F.L. to the recent protests.

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