On Sunday, a handful of St. Louis Rams players entered the game mimicking the Ferguson “hands up, don’t shoot” protest.
The gesture is clearly a political statement intended to signal solidarity with the Ferguson protesters, who continue to insist that Michael Brown had his hands up to surrender when police Officer Darren Wilson fatally shot him on August 9. Witness testimony plus forensic evidence say that Brown started an altercation with Wilson and tried to grab the officer’s gun. Brown was shot when he charged at the officer.
The NFL says that the Rams players will not face any disciplinary action for making a political statement while they were in uniform.
But the NFL isn’t always so tolerant of players making personal statements. Earlier this season, now benched Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was wearing a T-shirt that said “Know Jesus, Know Peace” just ahead of a post-game press conference. RG3 is a graduate of Baylor University and an outspoken Christian.
Griffin flipped his T-shirt inside-out moments before the presser, and there were claims at the time that the NFL had forced him to make the change. An NFL spokesman denied forcing Griffin to change his shirt, but did point out that players can face a fine for wearing clothing that makes a personal statement on game days. So the threat of discipline was in the air, and RG3 responded to it.
The Rams players made a personal statement on network TV while in uniform, as they emerged to play their game versus the Oakland Raiders. But the NFL says that they will face no fines or any other disciplinary action.