Tampa Bay Lightning player J.T. Brown has been raising a fist during the national anthem since Oct. 7. On Thursday, he announced that he was ending his protest and putting his energy toward doing real work in the community.
Brown posted his statement on Twitter on Thursday afternoon:
Less talk, more action
Brown used the protest to draw attention to the issue of police brutality, but instead of getting hung up on a public display, he's now building relationships with the people who can make a difference.
Meeting with the Tampa Bay Police Department, giving police officers tickets to games, and participating in ride-alongs shows that Brown not only appreciates the work the officers do, but he has a desire to understand the challenges of the job that civilians don't always see.
Getting involved with the Boys & Girls Club and other youth organizations allows Brown to be a bridge between young people in his community and the police officers, hopefully laying the groundwork for positive relationships with law enforcement rather than an atmosphere of fear or animosity.
Collaborating with the owners of the franchise is a way to leverage his status as a professional athlete and tap into the vast resources of the organization that employs him to advance his cause.
This writer's perspective
As we've seen in the NFL, national anthem protests have become such a convoluted topic that they are not leading to real progress on the original issue former quarterback Colin Kaepernick was protesting in the first place.
The best anyone can hope for is a situation like the one Brown has created: a graceful end to the controversial protests with a pivot into community service and activism that can advance the cause.
As Kaepernick himself said last September, "I don't want to kneel forever." It's not a defeat to move past these protests. It doesn't mean you're giving up. It's a sign that solving the issue is more important than anything else.