Tennessee Titans player Rishard Matthews has made a declaration that may cost him his job.
The Titans wide receiver has drawn the line in the sand on standing for the national anthem, deciding he would rather quit the NFL than be forced to alter his protest.
Asked by local Nashville producer, Matt Parker, on Twitter Thursday if he would continue to stay in the locker room when the anthem is played even if it meant facing a fine or penalty, Matthews replied that he would be “done” playing football.
— Paul Kuharsky (@PaulKuharskyNFL) October 12, 2017
The tweet was quickly deleted and Matthews was not available to speak to reporters in the locker room, ESPN reported. Titans head coach Mike Mularkey had just learned about the tweet but told reporters following Thursday’s practice that he had not even had a chance to think about it.
Mularkey on Matthews. pic.twitter.com/Nfz50MRO3k
— Paul Kuharsky (@PaulKuharskyNFL) October 12, 2017
Matthews had not previously joined the protests by NFL players out of respect for his brother, a Marine who died in Afghanistan two years ago. His father also served 23 years in the Marines. Matthews decided to remain in the locker room during the anthem after President Trump criticized NFL players who were protesting and declared he would continue to do so until the president apologizes.
Matthews has stayed alone in the locker room during the anthem for the team’s last two games after the Titans initially protested before their Week 3 game against the Seattle Seahawks by remaining in the locker room.
A joint statement released by the NFL and NFL Players Association on Wednesday indicated that the policy recommending, not requiring, players to stand during the anthem has not been changed, ESPN reported. The subject of the protests and how to progress on social issues will be discussed in league meetings next week attended by Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and player leadership.
Country singer Jessie James Decker, the wife of Titans wide receiver Eric Decker, said singing “The Star Spangled Banner” was one of her favorite things to do. In a video posted online this week, she noted how the anthem makes her think about those who serve in the military as well as her own military family.
Matthews, the Titans’ 28 year-old leading receiver, is currently in his second year of a three-year, $15 million contract. But he has effectively painted himself into a corner with his statement, leaving no wiggle room if the Titans call his bluff and force the players to stand.
And despite cries of free speech rights and constitutional protections, the fact remains that players who are making their statements on social issues by protesting at the games are on the job, subject to their employers’ rules.
It’s a job, and your boss doesn’t want behavior that upsets customers. Take the rest out of it and it’s that simple. Every job the same
— Brian Burchfield (@alittlevil) October 12, 2017
Not really. If his employer says he has to do something, he has to do it. I don’t like all policies of my company but I have to follow them.
— Kip Wells (@kippur_623) October 12, 2017
Twitter users reacted to the remark and to what may end up being a bad business decision by Matthews.
Why did you delete your tweet about leaving football if you are made to stand? you know you won’t follow through…
— Bluntcheck (@bluntcheck) October 12, 2017
Bye. Props for “standing up” for your convictions. Plenty more where he came from. Next.
— Rich Ewald (@ewald57) October 12, 2017
Richard Matthews won’t stand for our National Anthem? Fire the Bum. ??
— Robert Rhodes (@Rsr3rd) October 13, 2017
You can do what you want, this is America, but remember We pay big money and we pay big Taxes to subsidize you.
— Jose Barros (@campbel763) October 13, 2017
Let see if one of these @NFL players will actually put his money where is mouth is.. titans we Richard Matthews says he will quit football if he has to stand for the national anthem.. Is he willing to trade his beliefs for money? Hopefully the nfl will force them, so we can see..
— lanes change (@demfascists) October 12, 2017
We don’t care if they all quit
— Terry Gabriel (@trock0321) October 13, 2017
Better yet, quit living in a country which gave you unearned freedom at the expense of those who shed blood 4 liberty.
— Rho (@MontBlancUn) October 13, 2017
Everyone is replaceable.
— Doug Heile (@DougHeile) October 12, 2017
Why do NFL EMPLOYEES think they can do whatever they want? I work. I have to follow rules… and I don’t make millions.
— OneBullFan (@mtmedlin1976) October 12, 2017
@FootballCanada iam sure is looking..
Warning they don’t pay the same
— Jimmy Sanderson (@jrsanderson795) October 13, 2017
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