J.T. Brown could raise fist during anthem
Lightning wing J.T. Brown won't sit or kneel for the national anthem during Friday's season opener.
There's a chance he may not even be in the lineup.
But when Brown, 27. does play, don't be surprised if he raises his right fist during the Star Spangled Banner. It's a symbol for solidarity and strength as Brown hopes to bring awareness to police brutality and inequality for minorities.
Brown, one of around 30 black players in the NHL, used this silent protest during Thursday's exhibition game in Sunrise, finding it a middle ground for those who say kneeling for the anthem disrespects the flag. Brown said he spoke with several active military, along with his family before deciding what he felt was right.
Around 250 NFL players sat or knelt during the anthem in the first couple weeks of the season, sparked by comments from President Trump, who said those who do so should be fired.
"Some will tell you that's disrespecting the military, well I wanted to hear it from someone who is serving, not some person on Twitter," Brown said. "Some thought (kneeling) it was disrespecting, but most felt that we have a right to do it, regardless of whether they agree with you or not, or would stand next to you."
The raised fist was most famously done in the 1968 Olympics by African American track stars John Carlos and Tommie Smith, who used the salute while on the medal stand as a sign of black power. Brown has been active in the Tampa Bay community, serving as a mentor to at-risk kids in the 'Guide the Thunder" program. He also donated $1,500 towards removing the Confederate statue from downtown Tampa.
Brown spoke to coach Jon Cooper and his Lightning teammates before Thursday's silent protest. Captain Steven Stamkos and Ryan Callahan have said they'd support a teammate who protested.
But Brown wasn't ready to say when, or how often, he'll raise his fist during the anthem this year.
"It's kind of hard to just say you're going to do it one time or throughout the season," Brown said. "For me, right now, we're going to keep trying to bring awareness. You want to make sure you're in the community, you're backing up what you're talking about, what you're supporting, not just talk."