New Mexico one of the few college teams that have kneeled during national anthem
LARAMIE — One of the biggest off-field topics in football over the last two seasons has been NFL players’ protests against racial inequality, which have taken place during the national anthem.
But college football has largely remained out of the discussion — even more so than high school football — for one simple logistical reason. Most college football teams are not yet on the field when the anthem is played before games.
One of the few college teams that has demonstrated during the anthem is New Mexico, which Wyoming hosts this week. The Lobos’ game at Air Force was delayed by lightning, so the anthem was played at halftime. Five New Mexico players kneeled.
Wyoming freshman offensive lineman Eric Abojei happened to be writing a seven-page English essay on the demonstrations this week. The topic came up while I was interviewing him for a feature on players who redshirt. Abojei said his paper involves research into NFL players’ reasoning for the protests and the arguments by those who oppose them, as well as his own opinion.
“I mean, I feel like if college players had the choice to, I feel like a lot of college players probably would take the knee,” Abojei said. “I mean, I support it. I’ve done a lot of research on it, and it’s being taken differently now. People are seeing it as disrespect, but other other people are seeing it as just protesting for injustices and everything.”
Abojei said his team has discussed the protests somewhat.
“It hasn’t really been the biggest talk, just because we’re not usually out there for the national anthem, but it’s really a big topic,” he said. “Especially in my classrooms, you hear a lot of people talk about it. Like, my first time when I brought it up, I was one of the first kids to bring it up in my class, and it was like a big argument about it. But people start to understand it more and more when they do the research. But my team, I believe they know about the whole issue and everything.”
Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl was asked about the protests when they first began last year.
“Well, my feelings are my feelings, and I’m not going to discuss those today,” he said. “I have a great deal and respect and admiration for our country. And there’s all kinds of different components. Within our football team, we have young men that are from Wyoming, and we have an African-American who’s from Baltimore. And we have an African-American, (Brian Hill) is from St. Louis. And we have guys that are from Compton.
“And I go into all these places. So to have a simplistic answer — but I do think it’s important for us to have a unified stance, not stance, but feeling about our country.”