J.T. Brown of the Tampa Bay Lightning announced an end to his national anthem protests after meeting with local police.
Brown was the first NHL player to protest during the anthem when he raised his fist at the Lightning’s first regular season away game, on Oct. 7. He followed in the footsteps of many NFL players who have protested during games and left the league in a conundrum. A scattered number of players in other sports leagues have followed the trend, albeit on a smaller scale.
But after Brown’s protest, he was contacted by interim Tampa Bay Police Chief Brian Dugan and invited to come to a police simulation training program, WFLA reported. The program is offered to civilians a limited number of times throughout the year.
— Jt brownov (@JTBrown23) October 13, 2017
He posted a video of himself going through a simulated police stop where a suspect shot at him during a traffic stop. He also posted photos of himself, smiling, surrounded by police department staff.
Although the tweet he sent out referring to his initial regular season protest quoted Martin Luther King Jr. and described his reasoning for taking a stand against police brutality and racial inequality, in his later tweets he seems to have done an about-face of sorts, and said he will focus on concrete actions to impact his community in positive ways. Many of the NFL protesters have been criticized for bringing up issues with their anthem protests without clarification of concrete aims or plans to affect their community in positive ways.
“I am going to continue this relationship, even participating in ride alongs. I am donating more than 600 tickets so that organizations like the Bigs in Blue and the RICH House can come to our games. I will also be meeting the police officers and kids afterward. I will be getting involved with Mr. and Mrs. Vinik’s program with the Winston Park Boys and Girls Club, where the Hillsborough County deputies volunteer. Together we can help teach these kids valuable life lessons and how to play hockey. I will also continue to explore new ways to get involved in the community to help build bridges and create rewarding relationships,” wrote Brown in the Twitter post.
Here’s what’s next. pic.twitter.com/IoXeUkacUZ
— Jt brownov (@JTBrown23) October 18, 2017
But Brown’s about-face is due to more than just his time with Dugan and his staff. Brown also spoke with local football legend Derrick Brooks. Brooks is known for his tireless commitment to the community.
“We’re all in this together,” Brooks told the Tampa Bay Times, when asked about Brown. “I mostly wanted to listen and be a sounding board. I’m just glad that other young athletes want to be involved and are passionate. Not just wanting to help but actually doing it.”
When asked what he thinks of all the pregame protests, the 44-year-old former linebacker expressed his proactive approach to these kinds of things.
“Anyone who knows me I’m all about boots on the ground. I work with these men on an action plan,” he said.
Brown’s regular season protest lasted just one game before the transformation in his approach. Although he said that his teammates and Lightning staff supported him, he didn’t play in games after the protest, but it appears he will step on the ice again since his latest announcement. The coincidence has not been explained.