On February 23, the Kansas City Chiefs agreed to trade one of their best players, cornerback Marcus Peters, to the Los Angeles Rams for draft picks.
“Marvelously talented player for sure,” ESPN Chiefs beat writer Adam Teicher told SiriusXM NFL Radio after the trade. “You saw things from him that not many players can do, at an important position to boot.”
Good cornerbacks are hard to find, so why trade one in his prime?
There are several reasons for the move, and one seems to be Peters 2017 anthem-kneeling in America’s Heartland.
“Did the kneeling impact this trade? You bet it did,” wrote the Big Lead’s Jason Lisk. “Whether it was the Chiefs realizing that the fanbase had issues with Peters where no one would listen, or he had issues with the fanbase.”
“He didn’t participate in the National Anthem last season for the first few games,” Teicher said. “He sat and sometimes he was even on an exercise bike during the anthem. That really disappointed Clark Hunt, the Chiefs’ Chairman. The two of them had a meeting at some point after that and what he would do is stay in the locker room, that was the compromise. He stayed in the locker room before the anthem and would come out and join his teammates after the anthem was over.”
In 2016, when the anthem-kneeling started, Hunt said, “I do think the right thing is for all the players and coaches on the sideline to stand during the national anthem and pay the respect that our flag and the people who have given their life for it deserve. At the same time, I understand we have players who are concerned about racial relations in this country, which is a very important subject. I just don’t believe that the national anthem is really the right place to voice your displeasure with that.”
So Hunt, born and raised in Texas, doesn’t seem to be a big fan of anthem-kneeling.
No Chiefs kneeled during the National Anthem in 2016 (Peters did raise his fist), but in 2017, Peters started to kneel, refusing to explain why.
“Nobody’s gotta know my reason why I sit,” Peters told the Kansas City Star’s Terez A. Paylor on October 7, 2017. “Nobody’s gotta know the reason why somebody chooses the religion they choose. Nobody’s gotta know why I eat cereal instead of eating oatmeal in the morning.”
But while anthem-kneeling clearly contributed to the trade, it’s only fair to point out there were other reasons.
“There were a lot of issues here that may not be on the surface,” Teicher said. “I think some of it was Marcus Peters himself. I think he never seemed like a guy who really wanted to be in Kansas City. He’s from Calfornia – the West Coast. I think he would rather play in that part of the country and that is fine. And I think he has communicated to the Chiefs. The Chiefs were getting to the point where they were either going to have to pay him or lose him. He was going to be making some serious money here, and they have Justin Houston and Eric Berry (making big money on defense).”
Screaming at Chiefs’ defensive coordinator Bob Sutton on the sideline also contributed.
“Remember Marcus Peters got kicked off his college team (University of Washington) for arguing with coaches,” Teicher said. “There is certainly history here. We saw it in one game where Peters went after Sutton on the sideline. Teammates stepped in maybe preventing something bigger. Peters was certainly shouting at Sutton. That is just what we saw on the sideline in one game. What was happening behind the closed doors?”
So Peters will now play in Los Angeles, a progressive market, where his anthem-protesting might not be as controversial as in Kansas City.