Prominent British sportscaster: NFL protests resonate throughout world

Neil Reynolds of Sky Sports, The United Kingdom’s version of ESPN, has covered the NFL since 1991.

LONDON — A prominent broadcaster for Sky Sports, the most powerful sports network in the United Kingdom, says NFL players protesting social injustice are setting an example for the world.

“I really think the NFL leads the way,” Neil Reynolds told the Palm Beach Post. “I think everyone should be kind of proud of the way they responded last week. They were kind of trying to have a unified approach. It’s a very, very touchy subject because of the flag and how much it means to American people. I get that. But I also think that players are trying to do so much in their communities in America. That happens to a degree in our sports but nowhere near like it is in America. These guys for me are the gold standard.”

The attention paid to the story in England was fueled when the Jaguars and Ravens both participated in protests last week, in a game played at Wembley Stadium.

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“Yeah it’s been very much a topic that we’ve followed in our news media,” Reynolds said. “It was on the front of our sports pages after the game last week with the Ravens. Pictures of Ray Lewis kneeling. It definitely resonates. When President Trump kind of attacks the NFL, I think the NFL responded as a whole. Yeah, that has resonated throughout the world.”

Reynolds has been an anchor and reporter covering the NFL for Sky since 1991.

Sunni Upal, who covers the NFL for The Sun, feels more English athletes would engage in protests if their national anthem were played before matches.

“I don’t think of it as frowned upon here,” Upal said. “My opinion is there is not as much opportunity to do it. National anthems are played before every NFL game. I couldn’t imagine that before every Premier League game. I don’t think the opportunity is there to make such a political statement.”

Upal said the American protests were national news.

“It really blew up last week, having it happened at Wembley last week,” he said. “It’s on the front pages as well as the sports pages over here. Anything that Trump does is news world-wide really, not just the UK.”

Reynolds said the Dolphins are one of the most popular NFL teams in London. Reynolds said NFL football in general is so popular in England because of the stadium game day environment.

“I think an NFL game is just so action packed, whether it’s a 40-yard throw downfield or a big hit,” he said. “It’s a game that it’s a day out at Wembley Stadium that’s very different than a soccer environment. You can take your family out and feel perfectly safe for four or five hours. A pregame show and everything that’s going on. It’s a wonderful environment for fans. Everyone mingling together. We don’t have that in soccer. Everyone is kind of segregated.”

Reynolds raised Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills as a NFL player who is setting a positive example through his actions.

“Kenny sort of instigated a program where players do ride-alongs with police, and I mean they’re actually out there trying to make a difference and do stuff, so it’s not just taking a knee on Sundays,” Reynolds said. “They’re actually very proactive. And I’m not sure that we have that type of activity among our sportsmen. It’s not something that we see here very often.”

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