Stephon Tuitt, a six-year NFL defensive lineman, took to Twitter on Monday to announce that he will not be kneeling during the national anthem and “screw anybody” who has a problem with that.
“My grandmother was a immigrant from the Carribean” and she “worked her ass off to bring 20 people over the right way. She had no money and educated herself to be a nurse. She living good now,” he said.
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The tweet was embraced by many on social media as an example of what the American Dream looks like despite the recent movement to desecrate anything to do with the country’s past.
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The tweet comes as most professional sports have embraced kneeling during the national anthem. There have been reports of entire WNBA teams walk off the court in protest.
Cameron Heyward, a nine-year veteran and defensive tackle for the Steelers, said earlier that the team would protest in unity.
“I think we want to stay united in what we do and what we want to accomplish,” Heyward said during a conference call with reporters last month. “Coach T [Tomlin] always told me that if we win a Super Bowl, that’s not enough for the city of Pittsburgh. We want to leave a lasting change on our community as well.”
Kneeling during the national anthem has been a focal point during sporting events, and many look to the NFL and former quarterback Colin Kaepernick as playing a lead role in its popularity. Protests that have erupted across the country in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody.
The movement away from standing for the national anthem is not new and has divided locker rooms in the past.
Yahoo! pointed out that in 2017, Alejandro Villanueva, an Army veteran who played for the Steelers, took the field alone during the national anthem while his teammates stayed behind in the locker room. He later said that he regretted his decision. He later said that he threw his teammates under the bus and he regretted the decision.
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Tuitt’s move was seen as a courageous move by many on social media but he seemed to attract new fans.
“Being a Browns (for Life) fan, I’m not a Steelers fan, but I just may be a Stephen Tuitt fan. Good for you, buddy!” one Twitter user wrote.