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Athletes React To The Weekend’s Violence In Charlottesville

“Make America Great Again huh?!”

Athletes from across every professional league reacted to the weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Most notable was LeBron James, an outspoken critic of Trump, who described the violence as “sad” and added “Our youth deserve better.”

NFL players Chris and Kyle Long grew up in Charlottesville with their father, football commentator and former NFL player Howie Long. “Obviously, people ask, ‘You’re from Charlottesville?’ It kind of leaves a bad taste in their mouths thinking that one of their guys is from Charlottesville, where they see all these rallies and stuff happening. Like I said, don't let a few bad apples ruin what is really true about Charlottesville and that area — there’s good folks there,” said Kyle, an offensive lineman with the Chicago Bears. “Hopefully we can continue to do the right thing as a whole. Obviously there’s going to be people that don’t follow the same suit. Don’t be those folks.”

Chris Long, now with the Philadelphia Eagles, told reporters, “I haven’t seen statistics, but I’d be willing to bet the vast majority of people voicing those white supremacist sentiments were from out of town. The majority of the people that were defending our hometown against ideals like that were from Charlottesville, or students. It’s disheartening, but I really think it’s desperation for those folks to feel threatened by us doing the right thing.”

Texans kicker Nick Novak also grew up in Charlottesville, where his parents were both professors. “It’s the devil’s work,” he told John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. “It’s horrible to see all that. It’s nasty stuff, and I really feel for my friends that live there. I didn’t see anything like that when I was growing up in Charlottesville. It’s terrible. I don’t think it’s a political issue. It makes me emotional to talk about. I pray for them, the people that were injured.”

“I don’t believe anything that’s going on there, whatever they’re called — white nationalists — those are racists in my opinion. I’ve heard Nazis and all these hate groups that are being mentioned in the media. These people need to be taken care of. There’s no place in this society for them. You hope and pray it changes.”

Washington Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle, who played baseball at the University of Virginia, said, “I hope people not from this area of the country understand that the people that were marching in and around [the university] and Charlottesville, they’re not from there,” Doolittle said Sunday. “These aren’t people that represent the school or the community. This was a rally where people came from other parts of the state, other parts of the region. Because that area, that town, is an incredibly accepting and diverse and embracing community.”

The Detroit Red Wings released a statement denouncing the use of the Red Wings’ logo by extremist groups in Charlottesville.

“The Detroit Red Wings vehemently disagree with and are not associated in any way with the event taking place today in Charlottesville, Va.,” the team said in a statement. “The Red Wings believe that hockey is for everyone and we celebrate the great diversity of our fan base and our nation. We are exploring every possible legal action as it pertains to the misuse of our logo in this disturbing demonstration.”

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett began what he claims will be a season-long refusal to stand for the national anthem on Sunday.

“Charlottesville had a lot to do with it but I think it’s just the journey of who I am as a person. I think everybody has a time where they feel like they need to be who they are and stand up for what they believe in,” Bennett explained.

“I hope that I can activate everybody to get off their hands and feet and go out into the communities and push helping each other,” he told reporters. “Sit down with somebody that’s the opposite sex, sit down with somebody that's the opposite race, different religion and understand that people are different and go out and join the community and try to change the society, change what you’re a part of. If you don't like it, keep changing it.”

To critics who feel athletes shouldn’t speak out about political events, Michael Bennett’s brother Martellus, a tight end with the Green Bay Packers, responded:

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