KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As the Kansas City symphony performed the national anthem before Monday night’s game between the Chiefs and Washington, two lone players chose to take a seat along the home team bench.
Starting cornerback Marcus Peters declines to discuss his reasons for sitting during the national anthem. But rookie linebacker Ukeme Eligwe will discuss his reasons for sitting — if you write him a letter explain why you find his decision offensive.
“If anybody, if I’ve offended anyone, anyone who truly believes me sitting during the national anthem is hurt by it, write me a personal letter,” Eligwe said. “I’ll write you back. We can become pen pals. I want to understand where you’re coming from, you can understand where I’m coming from.”
Eligwe, the team’s fifth-round draft selection in this year’s draft, declined to elaborate his reason for sitting during the anthem. He believes an open, interactive exchange allows him and critics to better understand each other’s position.
“Because I believe people are just picking their sides and they’re not really listening to what’s going on, they’re not listening to people,” he said.
Eligwe is a native of Stone Mountain, Ga. The town is named for nearby Stone Mountain, home of the Confederate Memorial Carving. The relief carvings of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Confederate general Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson cover three acres of the mountain face, larger than Mount Rushmore, and looming 400 feet above the ground. The second Ku Klux Klan founded at Stone Mountain in 1915.
That history provides a notable influence on the former Florida State and Georgia Southern linebacker. Eligwe said he means no disrespect with his decision to take a seat during the anthem.
“They just see us sitting and just think it’s disrespect, they take disrespect to it when you’re not asking yourself why’s this person doing this, what’s wrong, what’s going on,” Eligwe explained. I know of course a lot of people have problem with people who sit for the national anthem, whether they’re protesting or whatever the case may be.”
He hopes that a dialogue with anyone who takes offense at this decision will help himself and others develop a better understanding of the other’s personal beliefs.
“My point of view, what I want to take on it is if someone wants to take their time out of their day and write me a letter, then I’ll take time out of my day and write them back,” Eligwe said.