Mitch's Sports Report: More Than A Game. Hundreds Of NFL Players Kneel In Free Speech Protest
It will go down as one of those days when the world of sports intersected with the world of politics, culture, and race.
Responding to comments made by president Trump at a rally in Alabama that NFL players who take a knee during the singing of the National Anthem should be fired by the team's owners, and referring to such players by calling them an expletive, more than one hundred players and coaches across the league showed solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, the player who initially began the protest as a way to draw attention to the multiple fatal encounters African-Americans have had with law enforcement officials over the past few years in the U.S.
It began in England, where the Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens were showcasing the NFL for fans in London in a game that began at around 10 in the morning eastern standard time. More than a dozen players from both teams knelt during the U.S. national anthem, then stood for the singing of the U.K. national anthem.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh, Jaguars coach Doug Marrone and Jaguars owner Shad Khan stood with the players during the U.K. anthem and linked arms with the players.
In Pittsburgh, the Steelers remained in the locker room for the singing of the National Anthem, save for one player, U.S. army veteran Alejandro Villanueva, who stood for the Anthem at the entrance to the tunnel. The Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans also stayed off the field for the anthem, the Seahawks releasing a player's statement that said in part "we will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of color in this country."
It was a remarkable day, to say the least, with even personal friend of Donald Trump, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, releasing a statement saying he was disappointed with the president's remarks at the Alabama rally and expressing his support for any player who wishes to exercise his first amendment right to free speech.
Meanwhile a lot of people were just speechless over what to say about Tom Brady, who once again led a comeback victory in the final minute of play, finding Brandin Cooks in the end zone with 23 seconds left on the clock for a 36-33 victory over the Houston Texans. The Pats trailed by five with about two and a half minutes to go when Brady led one of his patented drives downfield for the winning score. Brady has now led the Pats to wins in the fourth quarter when tied or trailing an astonishing 52 times in his career. He threw five touchdowns on the day yesterday, and Cooks is proving to be an especially potent weapon, especially with go-to receiver Julian Edelman out for the year. Cooks collected the winning pass from Brady with a slight jump, kept both feet in bounds with just a few inches to spare, and held on to the ball for a thrilling victory, improving the Pats to 2-1 on the year, and there's just no getting around the fact that TB-12 is the greatest quarterback ever to play the game.
Elsewhere, the NY Giants are in a 0-3 hole, stunned by the Philadelphia Eagles when kicker Jake Elliott nailed a 61-yard field goal as time expired and gave Philly a 27-24 win.
A lot of people thought the NY Jets would be so bad this year that they wouldn't win a single game, but don't tell that to the Miami Dolphins, who lost to the Jets 20-6 yesterday. Josh McCown threw a 69-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson, and Bilal Powell ran for a score to give the 1-2 Jets their first victory of the season.
To Major League Baseball and the Boston Red Sox magic number for clinching the American League's eastern division is down to three after the Mookie Betts show wrapped up in Cincinnati yesterday. The Red Sox trailed the Reds 4-1 in the 8th inning when Betts came up with one out and the bases loaded and unloaded them with a double to the gap in left center that tied the game at four. And Betts wasn't done. Rafael Devers was up next and he beat out an infield single, and as he did that Betts rounded third and kept heading for home, sliding in safely with the winning run in a 5-4 Red Sox victory, completing an outstanding 8-1 road trip and two consecutive series sweeps. There was a great highlight for Reds fans in this one when speedster Billy Hamilton got caught in a rundown between first and second. After Dustin Pedroia threw the ball away, Hamilton raced all the way around and scored when the Red Sox failed to cover home plate, but Betts made sure his own aggressive base running kept that from being the margin of victory.
The Red Sox now have a commanding 5 game lead for first over the NY Yankees who lost to the Blue Jays 9-5 in Toronto despite two home runs from Aaron Judge. Really nice moment in this one when long time Blue Jay Jose Bautista was sent onto the field by himself for a standing ovation from the crowd. It was Toronto's last home game of the season, and likely the final game for Bautista in a Blue Jays uniform after a stellar career there.
It was a great start for the University of Vermont Field Hockey team, with Landon Warren scoring her eighth goal of the season against Northeastern, followed by a Rachel Phillips tally, but the Huskies roared back to score six unanswered goals in a 6-2 win over UVM.
Elsewhere, St. Michael's shut out St. Thomas Aquinas 5-0, with freshman Shelagh Fluharty scoring two goals in the second half, her first two collegiate career tallies. The Purple Knights defense was outstanding, with goalie Anna Hurley needing to make just one save for her third shut-out of the season.
The Middlebury Panthers hoped to deal Babson its first loss of the season and got off to a good start with Grace Jennings getting Middlebury on the board first, but Babson scored the next two for a 2-1 win, improving to 9-0 on the season.
Castleton scored seven goals in the first half en route to a 10-0 win over Becker College.
In women's college soccer, Johnson defeated Paul Smith 6-2 and Kylie Aither entered the record books, scoring four goals in the game to give her 51 for her career, the most ever for a women's player in Badger history. The Johnson State men were victorious as well with a 6-0 shut-out over Paul Smith. Dominic Caforia had two goals and two helpers in the win.