First call: Stephon Tuitt of the Steelers defiantly tweets that he won’t kneel during the anthem

For the second day in a row, “First Call” takes a look at another sports figure with Pittsburgh ties sounding about kneeling down during the anthem.

On Monday, it was Aliquippa and Pitt legend Mike Ditka. The former Chicago Bears coach told TMZ: “If you can’t respect our national anthem, get out of the country.”

Now Steelers player Stephon Tuitt is making his voice heard.

I’m not sure what Stephon Tuitt triggered on Monday, but the Steelers defensive lineman, who used to be friendly, was in the mood on Twitter.

At first, Tuitt seemed upset about issues related to athletes and how they took care of their finances.

Or he couldn’t do it.

Then Tuitt turned the subject of kneeling down hard during the hymn.

Tuitt’s post raises an interesting conversation in the wake of protests over the death of George Floyd.

Last month, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was disgusted within NFL circles for saying he didn’t support the idea of ​​kneeling during the anthem. And he said it in much more delicate terms than Tuitt.

Since Brees is white, he was an easy target to interpret as being closed-minded, awkward, and deaf.

And those were the nice things that people said about him.

Brees has leaned back to amend what he said, regardless of whether or not he should feel compelled to do so.

Tuitt is African American. And he was certainly more dismissive and confrontational in his messages. However, in the approximately 20 hours between his tweet and this post, his comments have received very little attention in comparison.

That begs the question: what does it matter when it comes to provoking outrage from other NFL players and media types? Because Brees was defeated in both circles.

Are they the person’s words? The action? The tone? The timing? Or the color of the skin of the person sending the message?

On the one hand, it can be argued that if kneeling down during the anthem is part of the great Black Lives Matter movement and, as an African American player, Tuitt departs from the cause, he could be portrayed even more negatively than Brees.

On the other hand, however, as a person of color, Tuitt can legitimately argue that if the movement truly represents equality and freedom of belief, it should be allowed to stand during the anthem without backlash.

I will be extremely interested to see how this happens for players of any race who choose to stand during the anthem if a significant majority of players choose to kneel.

If “protest” becomes “the norm,” and standing still becomes a protest in itself, will there be negative consequences along racial lines in the locker room?

As if things weren’t tense enough in that regard anymore.

In my opinion, players have every right to kneel. But it’s him Right. Not her obligation embarrassing anyone to do the same if that teammate doesn’t feel the same.

Both Brees and Tuitt should be applauded for expressing their beliefs in the face of social media contempt and taking whatever action they deem appropriate during the song.

If you look at Tuitt’s responses, he received a lot of criticism. Mainly it comes from people who interpret the act of kneeling during the hymn and what it represents differently than what he does.

Apparently, he sees the tradition of defending the anthem as representing the best of America, and not as a symbol of what is happening to him.

Tuitt can still have that interpretation, right? I mean, it’s one that Brees and Ditka seem to share. It is one that I share. However, he doesn’t appear to be one of Tuitt’s many online followers.

What matters is how it is managed in the Steelers locker room. How Tuitt’s teammates react to him and how he reacts to kneeling teammates. Head coach Mike Tomlin has said the franchise will “support” protesting players.

However, according to Tuitt’s kicked wasp nest of social media, it is no longer clear what that “protest” is. Are you standing or kneeling?

From a pragmatic soccer point of view, this is the good news. If Tuitt is really on the field to stand up and cause a stir, that’s a good thing. Because at least it’s in the starting lineup. Because, after missing 12 games in the past two seasons, that hasn’t happened enough.

I hope Tuitt plays again. Whether you stand or kneel is entirely up to him.

As it should be for all players.

Tim Benz is a writer for the Tribune-Review. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter. All tweets can be republished. All emails are subject to publication unless otherwise specified.

Sports | Steelers / NFL | Breakfast With Benz