Jets Head Coach Todd Bowles Says Players Have Green Light To Protest

    The past week has been emotionally-draining, shocking, revealing and penetrating for America. The incident in Charlottesville, the battle over confederate flags and the Colin Kaepernick-inspired protests have thrust the conversation of race, social injustice and sports into an unbreakable and combustible marriage of thought.  

    Protests in the NFL have been a major topic of conversation nationally. There are two sides, unwavering in their positions and cut deeply down the middle concerning the appropriateness of kneeling during the anthem . 

    Reporters asked New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles, one of six African-American coaches in the 32-team NFL, how he felt about player protests. 

    Protesting is their individual right, Bowles insisted. We dont have a rule book on whats right to protest and not protest. You dont know those things until the course of time whether they’re sitting for the anthem, whether it’s raising a fist, whether it’s speaking out, whether it’s a walk to Washington. Whos to say whos protest is good or bad?

    As a football team, politics and people are human, they are part of it. So you can’t say whats good or bad. I’m sure mostly everybody…Im sure I’m against racism, segregation and all that other stuff, but how do we come to an answer? I dont have that answer. How do we come to a common ground? I don’t have that answer. It’s a hell of a debate and a hell of a topic. It needs to stop. But who’s to say whose protest is good or bad? That’s just the way they feel and they have the right to express it.

    NY Daily News Sports on Twitter

    Jets coach Todd Bowles says it’s a player’s ‘individual right’ to protest the national anthem, @danielrpopper https://t.co/VByraOIMwa

    Bowles is a non combative voice of reason in this tense and twisted issue. He presents the right to protest as a human rights issue and made it clear that his responsibilities as a coach and the NFLs as a corporate entity dont extend to controlling how a player thinks or what he believes outside of football. 

    Bowles said hes addressed the issue with his team and they have no plans to participate in the protest at this time. 

    We talked about it. We talk about currents events all the time, said Bowles. It’s more than football with us. We talk about a lot of things. It’s a different topic, everybody has their own feelings about it. We cant sway anybody one way or the other. We are all grown men here. If that’s how people feel, then that has nothing to do with what they do in practice and on the field. Separately, off the field, they are going to feel how they want to feel.

    Bowles insists that the racially-charged climate in the country, the discord, the tension and racist reactions the protest has evoked dont extend to his group. The Jets are all good with their players expressing themselves about issues they hold important.They wont be proactive in leading a charge, but any player who feels that he wants to express himself has the green light. 

    Ralph Vacchiano on Twitter

    Todd Bowles would not stop Jets from protesting during national anthem … https://t.co/HUTsRRdHcB

    It hasnt caused anything in our locker room. I cant speak for anyone elses locker room. But off the field, everybody has the right to think what they want and they protest if they protest. It hasnt done anything to our locker room.

    JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.