Former New York Mets slugger Darryl Strawberry does not approve of NFL players protesting the national anthem, or any athlete using the stage they’re given to make a political statement.
‘The national anthem stands for what America is all about regardless of what’s happening,’ the eight-time All-Star told the Fox Business Network.
Free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick began the trend of protesting police violence against minorities during the 2016 preseason, when he was still a member of the San Francisco 49ers. Since that time, players across the NFL have followed in a variety of ways. Some, such as Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett have remained seated on the bench during the anthem whereas others have remained standing with one fist raised in the air.
Former Mets, Dodgers, Giants, and Yankees slugger Darryl Strawberry shared his objections to national anthem protests with the Fox Business Network on Wednesday
‘I would tell them,’ Strawberry continued, ‘really leave the politics alone as far as your job. You go out and do your job and play sports because you only really have [a] one-time window open to play sports and have an impact and sports is going to pass away, but what legacy will you leave in life? And that’s the most important thing.’
Strawberry did not specifically name any current athletes, and stressed that he has no problem with anyone who chooses to take a knee during the national anthem.
The problem, as Strawberry sees it, is that the protests are becoming divisive.
‘I wouldn’t do it and I’m not against guys that are doing it, but we have a problem in America, and we need to come together as people, not color but as people,’ Strawberry said. ‘And we need to understand that God has a perfect plan for all of us to come together and love each other and really work together. And I think when we work against each other, it separates us.’
Now-former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began protesting police violence against minorities during the 2016 NFL preseason and many players soon followed
Not all protesters take a knee. Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith (left) raises a fist while Seahawks All-Pro defensive end Michael Bennett (right) takes a seat during the anthem
Strawberry’s message comes not long after Seattle Seahawks star Michael Bennett accused the Las Vegas Metro Police Department of profiling him for being black and violating his civil rights. The Pro Bowl defensive end, who happens to be one of the players protesting during the anthem, says officers pointed their weapons at him and threatened to ‘blow my f****** head off.’
‘Las Vegas police officers singled me out and pointed their guns at me for doing nothing more than simply being a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time,’ Bennett wrote in a letter he posted on Twitter.
An eight-time All-Star, Strawberry retired in 1999 with four World Series rings
The Las Vegas Metro Police Department announced an investigation into the matter but has not admitted to any wrongdoing.
These days, Strawberry is an ordained minister, who runs The Darryl Strawberry Foundation, which is aimed to assisting children with autism.
Prior to becoming a born-again Christian, Strawberry’s playing career and early retirement were marked by trouble with the law. In addition to receiving three suspensions from Major League Baseball for drug use, he was also suspended 140 games in 1999 after being arrested for attempting to solicit sex from an undercover police officer.
Strawberry served an 11-month sentence for a parole violation before being released in April of 2003.
A four-time World Series champion, most notably with the Mets in 1986, Strawberry was named the National League Rookie of the Year in 1983 and finished second in the MVP voting in 1988 behind Dodgers outfielder Kirk Gibson. Strawberry retired in 1999 after winning three titles as a member of the Yankees.