DeSoto, Texas – First it was National Football League players kneeling in protest, or locking arms as a sign of unity. Now, high school football players are engaging in acts of protest at games during the National Anthem.
Some Garland High School players took a knee as the anthem played on Friday night.
Hall of Famer and former TCU star LaDainian Tomlinson opened up about the controversy as he visited DeSoto, Texas to launch the Peanut Bowl.
It was all hype and excitement in the stands at DeSoto High School stadium. The DeSoto Eagles hit the field in a game against longtime rivals, and neighbors, Cedar Hill Longhorns.
The rivalry is now part of the first-ever Peanut Bowl. The National Peanut Board teamed up with former TCU player and NFL running back LaDainian Tomlinson as host.
Tomlinson said, “For the kids, there’s something on the line. There’s a trophy. You get a trophy for winning this game.”
It has been a busy two weeks on the local and national football stages. Especially with politics surrounding protests and the national anthem. Neither the DeSoto nor Cedar Hill players were on the field as the anthem played before the game. However, two people on the sideline near the home team did take a kneeling stance.
“I’m not surprised at all,” Tomlinson explained. “I think it’s on the players, right now, to continue to move that message forward. But to never lose sight of what the issues are truly about. It’s not just taking a kneel or locking arms, it’s what they are doing it for.”
The Peanut Bowl and Tomlinson’s message come on the heels of a powerful speech the athlete delivered as he was inducted into the 2017 NFL Players Hall of Fame. He spoke about America putting an end to division and embracing inclusion. President Trump’s controversial tweets about athletes kneeling in protest during the anthem came weeks later.
Tomlinson said, “I was surprised the President actually got involded and said something about it. It was shocking. But at the same time, I was more proud of the response from our league.”
Moving forward, Tomlinson says it is all about giving back and mentoring to young athletes, and helping them reach their dreams.
The DeSoto Eagles took home the Peanut Bowl trophy. The final score was Eagles 21 vs Longhorns 7.
© 2017 WFAA-TV