Unlike some players in the NFL, Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert has every reason to stand for the national anthem. He wrote about them in a short piece for Medium called, “Why I Stand.”
“I know it would probably be best to stay out of it, but when you believe in something as much as I do it gets to a point where you want both sides to be heard,” Eifert begins. “I want to take this time to remind everyone why I stand.”
I stand because I love my country.
I stand because I want to honor the people putting their lives on the line for me on a daily basis in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.
I stand because my cousin is a pilot in the United States Air Force, risking his life flying F-15s in active war zones. He takes pride in his job protecting Americans, a sacrifice that all members of every branch of the United States military willfully take.
Eifert is also going to honor others’ courage and bravery by writing their names on his cleats, as he did in the Bengal’s season opener against the Baltimore Ravens:
I am writing Pat Tillman’s name on my cleats. And each game thereafter, I am going to write another person’s name from the United States military, whether active, retired, killed or missing in action, or a prisoner of war. These people are why I am standing because they gave me and everyone else the chance to have freedom and earn a living playing a sport I love.
When you look at what is happening all over the world today, as a fellow professional football player, I am in awe of Pat Tillman’s courage. In 2002, he walked away from millions of dollars and a “dream” most people couldn’t imagine achieving to do one thing, fight for his country. Pat wasn’t fighting for himself, he wasn’t fighting for one group vs. another; he was fighting for Americans.
“As I stand for the national anthem, I don’t want there to be questions of why I am standing or if I will kneel,” Eifert adds. “I want there to be a clear understanding of why I stand. I want there to be a clear understanding of why I respect our flag and why I love our country.”
Eifert isn’t just paying lip service to soldiers, either. He supports the K9s For Warriors charity, which helps returning soldiers deal with PTSD. “Something that many people in our country overlook,” Eifert says. This charity gets a “highly trained service dog” into the lives of soldiers and it appears to make a bigger difference than medicine alone.
“I respect my fellow players right to kneel during the national anthem but I hope everyone now knows why I stand, and respects that as well,” Eifert ends his piece.
Kinda makes you never want to utter that other name, doesn’t it?