While many pro football players have shown disrespect for their country by kneeling during the national anthem or otherwise demonstrating this season, Tennessee Titans receiver Rishard Matthews did the opposite.
According to ESPN, Matthews gave a salute two days after Veterans Day. Matthews said that while the gesture honored all veterans, he was especially thinking of his brother, Christopher Ruiz, who served as a Marine. His brother was killed in October 2015 in a transport plane crash in Afghanistan.
Matthews attributed his fame and talent to his fallen brother.
“You could say he’s a key to all my success so far,” the football star said.
“That I got in the end zone and did that, it was just a sign to him watching down,” he continued, referring to the salute. “It’s just normal. You think people are going over there and coming back and then you get the news he’s not coming back.”
Countless national news sources, such as Sports Illustrated reported on Matthew’s actions.
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— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) November 17, 2016
The Tennessee Titans explained this is not the only time Matthews honored his country in that way. The pro football player also gave a salute on Memorial Day.
Matthew’s actions come amidst those of anger by his fellow players. For example, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started a trend where football players kneel instead of stand for the national anthem. Furthermore, Kapernick had no problem disclosing the fact that he did not vote in the presidential election.
To his critics, Matthews said that he wants to be clear people know he gave a patriotic salute.
“If you go back and look at my form,” he said, “you’ll see that’s like a real salute, you know?”
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