The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

‘I’m not just doing it for show’: Why Jamison Crowder knelt

Redskins wide receiver Jamison Crowder (No. 80) kneels between Jordan Reed and Josh Doctson during the national anthem on Sunday. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Wide receiver Jamison Crowder was one of the most prominent Redskins who didn’t just link arms with his teammates on Sunday night, but also took a knee during the national anthem before Washington’s blowout win over the Raiders. He spoke softly about his decision after the game, but his comments were sort of lost to the world a few minutes later, when Josh Norman launched an emotional blast at President Trump.

Maybe the moment has now passed, but I read where Crowder’s college coach, Duke’s David Cutcliffe, expressed some uncertainty about Crowder’s motivation.

“I’d be interested to hear what he has to say because he’s the only [protesting player] I think I know,” Cutcliffe told The News & Observer. “He’s a great person. But I don’t know his heart or his mind on this. If he wanted to have a conversation, I’m conversational with our own kids about this. There is no reason to make mandates or anything else. But I want young people to understand what they are doing in that circumstance. It needs to really be thought out.”

So here’s at least a portion of what Crowder said. He said he supports the military, and that his demonstration was not meant as disrespect. He said he believes the country is hurting. And he said there are real problems that players would like to the country to address.

“We did it not to just put on a show or anything,” Crowder said. “We want to bring a solution to a problem that’s going on. I just feel like a lot of people get sidetracked with the kneeling, and we still haven’t had a discussion about what’s the solution to the problem. I don’t know. That’s why I’m doing it. That’s why I did it and joined my teammates, to be a part of it. I’m not just doing it for show or anything. We need to really sit down and have a talk and find a solution to a problem.”

Crowder didn’t offer many specifics about the problems that bother him; “I don’t really have to describe it, you can turn on the TV and see what’s going on,” he said. He said he wasn’t sure what impact last weekend’s displays would have on Colin Kaepernick’s continued unemployment, and that he wasn’t sure how the Redskins would handle future anthems. (“If my teammates want to do it, then yes, for sure,” he said, when asked if next week would be similar.) And he said he didn’t have solutions to serious national problems, but suggested that conversations could help.

“We need to have that talk,” he said. “We can have ideas, but until we get a time and a place where we can be heard, it’s just going to be a lot of kneeling, and the negativity around that, which isn’t what we’re trying to do. We’re not trying to disrespect the flag or anything. I had family that served in the Army. I understand that those guys and women go out and put their lives on the line, and I’m grateful for that. But it’s just a way to use our platform to try to bring awareness to a situation. It’s not anything against the military whatsoever.”

Among the players joining Crowder on the ground was injured tight end Jordan Reed, who was not in uniform but who knelt and linked arms with his teammates.

“I think it’s our responsibility to show that we are part of everything going on in this world today as well,” Reed said. “Not just football; we’re also human beings living in America. We feel what’s going on just like everybody else.”

In further comments noted by Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist Paul Woody, Crowder talked about how the unity that sometimes is seen inside football stadiums doesn’t necessarily convey after the games end, how “when we leave here, we’re going out into the real world.” And he said his demonstration was unrelated to the team’s location in D.C.

“At the end of the day, we’re trying to bring unity and bring equality to this country,” Crowder said. “It’s a great nation, a great country, but there’s some things that we feel are problems.”

Read more: 

After 34 years and six mostly humiliating losses, the Redskins owe the Chiefs

Kareem Hunt will be the biggest test the Redskins’ defense has faced this season

In one play, Redskins’ Josh Doctson earned trust and offered a sign of things to come