Ohio State Quarterback J.T. Barrett, Defensive Lineman Jalyn Holmes Weigh in on NFL Protests

By James Grega on September 26, 2017 at 9:49 pm
J.T. Barrett

The controversy surrounding President Donald Trump's comments from Friday and the ensuing protests in the NFL have dominated the headlines in sports for much of the last few days. 

Former Ohio State players involved in the protests included Malik Hooker, who took a knee during the national anthem with many of his Indianapolis Colts teammates.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday for the first time since the protests, a pair of current Buckeyes were asked for their thoughts on the matter.

J.T. Barrett, who comes from a military family in Texas, said in his mind the protests are not against the country of the American flag, but against the social injustice that African-Americans face. 

"Something that is getting lost in this is the fact that the protesting is not something that is towards our country as far as the national anthem and having pride in the United States," Barrett said. "It's more paying attention to the social injustice as far as innocent people being killed or targeted in a way."

The issues that are being discussed across the country are often talked about in locker rooms across athletics and could easily be dividers in the locker room. Urban Meyer said Monday that he is aware of the protests and the issues that have engulfed the football community over the last week, and said that he wants his players and coaches to respect the opinions of those around the program. 

"I didn't even realize it all happened until today because we were so busy on Sunday, but I visited with a few players and I always listen to the pulse of the team," Meyer said. "I have (director of player development) Ryan Stampers of the world that are part of my staff, and I just listen. And if it needs to be addressed I will."

There haven't been many acts of protest at the college level since Colin Kaepernick started protesting social injustice last season as a member of the NFL's San Francisco 49ers.

Meyer was asked on the Big Ten coaches teleconference on Tuesday whether he would allow some form of protest if one or more of his players wanted to do so. Meyer said that those conversations, if they are had, will remain between him and his players. 

“That’s between me and the player. To be honest, I don’t know, and if I did, I probably wouldn’t share it with you. To me, that’s sanctuary-type meetings you have with your players that you have trust in," Meyer said. "It’s no different than if you say what if my son or daughter came home and asked me what would I do, that’s between me and them.”

"There is no point in taking a knee if you're not really participating in the community."– Jalyn Holmes on protesting during the national anthem.

Ohio State defensive end Jalyn Holmes said that while the Buckeyes have talked about the protests internally, there hasn't been much discussion on conducting a team-wide protest during the national anthem. 

"People get tied up on what they're doing and not why they are doing it," Holmes said when discussing the NFL player protests. "There is a lot of social injustice and discrimination going on in the country. I have been a victim of both. If that is the way to get people's attention and see what is really going on in the country, keep doing it."

Holmes said making a contribution in the community is the best way to make a difference for Ohio State players and himself. 

"We haven't made any plans on anything," Holmes said when asked if Ohio State players would consider a form of protest. "One thing we do talk about is controlling what we can, and the way I can control it from here is giving back to the community. There is no point in taking a knee if you're not really participating in the community. Then you're just doing it because it's cool."