Perhaps the most infuriating part of any raging cultural debate is the lack of willingness between sides to better understand each other.
It’s not a left or a right thing. It’s a fairly universal problem.
Case in point, the seeming futility of the NFL anthem protest debate stems primarily from that same lack of communication.
On the one hand, when NFL players clamor for social justice reform, that’s an uncomfortable conversation worth having.
Can criminal justice reform be improved? Does it need to be? I haven’t the slightest clue, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth discussing.
On the other hand, it’s also easy to see why so many people are turned off when NFL players opt to be disrespectful during the national anthem.
There’s a time and a place for everything. When it comes to political protests, the singing of the national anthem at a football games simply is neither.
Both sides have dug in. That’s not exactly a surprise considering the passionate feelings involved.
That all being said, it is always refreshing to see someone involved in the debate willing to experience the other side of it.
Former Chicago Bears and New York Jets standout Matt Forte recently went on a police ride-along in Chicago to experience the law enforcement side of the argument, and seemed to come out all the more appreciative for it.
It should be noted that Forte, who retired this year, has never knelt or raised his fist for the national anthem in his career. The closest he came to protesting was when the entire Jets team opted to link arms during the anthem, an action that President Donald Trump himself approved of.
Great solidarity for our National Anthem and for our Country. Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable. Bad ratings!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
So it should come as little surprise that Forte treated his ride-along experience as such an eye-opener.
He got to experience the harrowing, everyday dangers the police have to deal with — and the complete lack of appreciation from the public many officers serve.
“Being in the car, and being in pursuit, my heart was beating a little bit,” Forte said when his ride-along involved chasing down a suspected gunman.
“It shows you the details and how serious they take their job,” Forte added.
But even more revealing than chasing down a potential felon for Forte was when he met with some local youths in the area of Chicago during the experience.
Despite being a local hero for his time excelling as a Chicago Bears running back, the kids who didn’t recognize him immediately lashed out at him for apparently being a police officer, since he was in the garb.
Forte tried to shake a young boy’s hand when an older woman, possibly a sister or mother, told the boy to get away from Forte because he was a cop. Forte was even cursed at for no apparent reason.
“The narrative, even to the young kids, is that all police officers are bad, and that’s not the case. So we’ve got to find some kind of common ground,” Forte said.
And revealing his true identity as an former NFL star apparently didn’t help much, Forte said.
“Even when we told him, he said ‘F you,'” Forte added.
Forte ultimately admitted the “deeper appreciation” he had for the job that police officers do after the ride along. And good for him.
Colin Kaepernick could learn a thing or two from Matt Forte.
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