Joined: 12/03/2017 22:31:37
It was a scorching hot Saturday last Sept. 10 and Woodrow Wilson and Highland were ready to face off in what figured to be a key football game in the West Jersey Football League Royal Division.
Moments before kickoff there was no indication a http://www.officialbengalsshop.com/shop-by-players-willie-young-jersey-c-2_105.html national and International story was going to occur, nothing to dictate that the spotlight was going to shine as bright as that September sun on Woodrow Wilson coach Preston Brown and his coaches and players in the coming days, weeks and months.
But as the national anthem started to play, Brown took a knee. His coaches and players – all except two – joined him.
Brown had decided a few days before he was going to take a knee as a way to speak out against economic disparities and social injustices. He had been inspired by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick making a similar gesture before a preseason game – and starting what would become a national controversy over his actions.
Brown told his team his plans so they wouldn’t be surprised, and unbeknownst to him, the majority decided to do so with him. They repeated the act for every anthem the rest of the season, changing course after Brown said they would only do it for two weeks because of how many calls and e-mails he received supporting their stance.
It’s been nearly a year since that opening game of the 2016 season – which Highland went on to win, 13-7, in what became something of a footnote of the day’s events.
The teams will meet again this Friday night in what is expected to be another closely-contested, important game. Brown said on Wednesday night he hadn’t discussed with the team whether he would kneel for this game or what their plans were and had the mindset that everyone should make their own decisions.
Stories on NJ.com about the decision last http://www.officialbuccaneersshop.com/shop-by-players-clinton-mcdonald-jersey-c-1_13.html September drew hundreds of comments. A 45-second video of the team kneeling has 91,000 views.
National and even International news agencies – the BBC did a piece the following week – talked to Brown and the players and followed up on their stance. Brown admitted the attention was nothing he expected and even this week – perhaps through the power of Google – the school fielded 8-10 phone calls on the issue as if it just happened.
Brown noted 70 percent of the responses he has seen throughout the year have been positive, though there are plenty of commenters who have called for his firing and were further enraged when the school district and superintendent supported him.
Brown said this week he suspects some officials who don’t agree with the Tigers’ decision have let it affect their impartiality.
"I was told by my AD that some refs didn’t want to ref our games," said Brown. “We got a penalty for too many men on the field when we didn’t have enough. One game they went to explain a call to the other coach and when I asked for an explanation I got a sideline warning. Against Moorestown, we were called off-sides when we weren’t even rushing in. We were told not to rush in during the final couple minutes of the Delsea game because they were going to take a knee, even though I said what if they fumble the snap? We got a penalty on an extra point for not enough people on the line that didn’t make any sense.
“In a lot of games there were some interesting calls and usually you just deal with it, but in close games that can cost you. And I still saw some questionable calls in one of our scrimmages this year.”
Brown said he continued to sit or kneel as he assisted with the basketball program this past winter and some players did the same.
“I don’t regret decisions we made,” said Brown, a Wilson graduate who is also the school’s Dean of Culture and Climate. “I still feel strongly about it. There’s been some improvements in some issues, but we still have issues. There’s questionable things happening.
"You see the (NFL player) Michael Thomas Davis Sr Kids Jersey Bennett (involved in a racial profiling incident) in Las Vegas. You look at who the President is and how many people are unhappy he is representing our nation and the things he has said publicly. You see what’s happening with (President) Trump now with DACA, which is going to affect some kids in our school if it goes through. There’s a great social economic divide and racial divide.