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Former Saluki Sam Coonrod makes headlines for refusing to kneel
MLB

Former Saluki Sam Coonrod makes headlines for refusing to kneel

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CARBONDALE — Former SIU pitcher Sam Coonrod was the only San Francisco Giant to not take a knee during a moment of silence Thursday night before his team took on the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Coonrod, a second-year reliever, told NBC Sports after the game he was a Christian and "can't kneel before anything besides God." He also said he could not agree with some of the things he had heard about the Black Lives Matter movement.

"I'm a Christian, like I said, and I just can't get on board with a couple of things that I have read about Black Lives Matter," Coonrod said. "How they lean toward Marxism and they've said some negative things about the nuclear family. I just can't get on board with that."

Coonrod said he did not have a chance to talk to teammates, including African-American outfielder Jaylin Davis, a leading voice in recent weeks, before the game because he did not know about the display until very late in the day. Coonrod said he decided he could not kneel, and "it was too late" at that point to talk to anyone about the decision.

Several Giants kneeled during the national anthem. The Dodgers' Mookie Betts was the only Los Angeles player to take a knee during the anthem.

"I meant no ill will by it. I don't think I'm better than anyone," Coonrod said. "I'm a Christian. I just believe I can't kneel before anything besides God — Jesus Christ.

"I chose not to kneel. I feel that if I did kneel, I would be being a hypocrite. I didn't want to be a hypocrite. Like I said, I didn't mean any ill will toward anyone."

Giants manager Gabe Kapler told NBC Sports he spoke to Coonrod after the 8-1 loss to the Dodgers. Kapler was very clear to his players before the game that they not have to do anything they weren't comfortable with, regarding public gestures about social justice or police brutality, and that they wouldn't be viewed any differently if they chose to take a knee during the anthem or if they chose to stand.

The Dodgers-Giants game was the second of an Opening Night doubleheader that began with the New York Yankees taking on the Washington Nationals.

The Yankees and Nationals all took a knee before the anthem as part of a player-led movement that had the support of Major League Baseball. They all held a black fabric in order to show unity and socially distance. Players also wore patches and Black Lives Matter T-shirts during batting practice.

todd.hefferman@thesouthern.com

618-351-5087

On Twitter: @THefferman

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