Prior to Thursday night's season opener between the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers, NBC Sports reported that many Giants chose to take a knee during the national anthem as they did at an exhibition game the night before.
But what made bigger headlines is what happened before the anthem Thursday. Every player and coach from both teams took a knee and held a long piece of black fabric in a moment of unity, NBC Sports said.
Except one player, the network noted: Giants' second-year relief pitcher Sam Coonrod.
Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images
Why did Coonrod refuse to take a knee?
After the Giants' 8-1 loss, Coonrod told NBC Sports that he's a Christian and "can't kneel before anything besides God" — and that he disagrees with some Black Lives Matter principles.
"I'm a Christian, like I said, and I just can't get on board with a couple of things that I have read about Black Lives Matter," Coonrod added to the network. "How they lean toward Marxism, and they've said some negative things about the nuclear family. I just can't get on board with that."
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Coonrod said he did not have a chance to talk to teammates, including African-American outfielder Jaylin Davis, a leading voice in recent weeks, before the game because he did not know about the display until very late in the day, when a teammate informed him of what was going to happen. Coonrod said he decided he could not kneel, and "it was too late" at that point to talk to anyone about the decision.
The Yankees and Nationals all took a knee before the anthem in Washington, D.C., earlier in the night as part of a player-led movement that had the full support of Major League Baseball. The idea reportedly came from former Giant Andrew McCutchen, who told ESPN that the black fabric was a socially distanced way to link arms and show unity. Players also wore patches and Black Lives Matter T-shirts during batting practice.
McCutchen said the moment was meant to illustrate that MLB can be a force for change when it comes to addressing injustice.
Coonrod noted that he's not trying to cause any trouble.
"I meant no ill will by it. I don't think I'm better than anyone," he added to the network after the game. "I'm a Christian. I just believe I can't kneel before anything besides God — Jesus Christ. I chose not to kneel. I feel that if I did kneel, I would be being a hypocrite. I didn't want to be a hypocrite. Like I said, I didn't mean any ill will toward anyone."
Here's Coonrod sharing a bit of his faith:
2019 San Francisco Giants Fellowship Day Sam Coonrodyoutu.be
Giants' manager Gabe Kapler made it clear to players that they're free to do what they want regarding kneeling or standing, and he'll respect their positions no matter what, NBC Sports said. Coonrod told the network he appreciates his skipper's stance.
"He's not going to get mad if I disagree with him," Coonrod added to NBC Sports. "I think that's part of the problem nowadays. People get mad whenever someone disagrees. I'm not mad at someone that decided to kneel. I think it's not too much to ask that I just get the same respect, you know?"