On Saturday night, Tampa Bay Lightning forward J.T. Brown became the first – and as far as we know, only – NHL player to address the sports-wide issue of protesting the national anthem.
Brown, 27, closed and raised his fist during the anthem. After the game, he told reporters that “I know there’s going to be negative backlash. But, in my heart, I know I did what was right.”
Brown decided to address the issue in greater depth on Sunday, sharing a lengthy message on Twitter. Brown mentions that he’s encountered racist remarks and even death threats since making that gesture.
Here’s how it began:
First, I would like to thank those for their overwhelming support not only from family, friends, and fans; some who I know and who I have never met before. I also wanted to reiterate that this is not or has never been about the military or disrespecting the flag. It is about police brutality, racial injustice, and inequality in this country. It is something that I as well as many others feels needs to be addressed.
Brown adds that “there comes a time when you cannot remain silent, hoping and wishing for a change” and went on to describe his thought process before making that protest.
Again, the forward mentions that he has received death threats and racist remarks “for how I chose to raise awareness.”
This statement is reminiscent of the heartfelt message San Jose Sharks forward Joel Ward released; Ward ultimately decided not to protest, yet he was the first black NHL player to state that he would consider doing so.
Protesting the national anthem is one of two situations where hockey and politics have collided, with the other being the Pittsburgh Penguins accepting an invitation to the White House.
For more on both matters, check out the posts below. Also, check out Raw Charge’s in-depth take on Brown’s gesture.
Penguins make controversial decision to accept White House invitation.
Donald Trump tweets about their visit.
Auston Matthews and others on kneeling.