Drama in Fer­gu­son is­sue of power, not race: Rams’ Britt

SundayXtra - - FOOTBALL - By R.B. Fall­strom

ST. LOUIS — More than most, Kenny Britt can re­late to the drama un­fold­ing just a few miles from Rams Park in Fer­gu­son.

The St. Louis wide re­ceiver and 2009 first-round draft pick feels strongly the trou­ble in Fer­gu­son, scene of so much un­rest fol­low­ing the fa­tal shoot­ing of an un­armed black 18-year- old by a white po­lice of­fi­cer, is not so much a race is­sue as it is one of power.

“I can iden­tify 100 per cent with what they’re go­ing through,” Britt said of Fer­gu­son res­i­dents. “Es­pe­cially as a young kid grow­ing up, I’ve seen it. When peo­ple have power they tend to use it. I have a 13-year- old brother and I’m in the NFL and he’s call­ing me say­ing the cops are fol­low­ing him around the block.”

The bot­tom line: “It’s sad to see the same thing is hap­pen­ing over and over.”

Britt has had nu­mer­ous brushes with the law, mak­ing the news for the wrong rea­sons three straight years ear­lier in his ca­reer when he was with the Ti­tans. In 2013, he was ques­tioned by po­lice when a close friend was in­volved in a stab­bing, a year af­ter be­ing cited for re­sist­ing ar­rest and then sus­pended for the opener af­ter a DUI ar­rest. In 2011, he was ar­rested in New Jer­sey fol­low­ing a car chase with po­lice

Britt, other mem­bers of the Rams and play­ers for base­ball’s Car­di­nals are all play­ing or liv­ing within only a few miles of Fer­gu­son. To a man, those will­ing to dis­cuss the in­ci­dent with The As­so­ci­ated Press were care­ful with their opin­ions about the ri­ot­ing and loot­ing since Michael Brown was shot to death Aug. 9.

“I don’t know if the cops were overly ag­gres­sive, or what hap­pened with the pro­test­ers,” Britt said. “It’s kind of hard when peo­ple with a voice (are) not say­ing any­thing.”

Of­fen­sive tackle Joe Barks­dale, who grew up in Detroit, won­dered about the ra­tio­nale for loot­ing: “What’s even more messed up is peo­ple de­stroy­ing their own com­mu­ni­ties.”

Whether it’s pre­par­ing for pre-sea­son games and try­ing to sur­vive loom­ing cut-down days or gear­ing up for the post-sea­son chase, the Rams and Car­di­nals can’t help fol­low­ing the day to day events. The Rams ear­lier this week in­vited foot­ball teams from dis­rupted high schools to prac­tice at their in­door fa­cil­ity. They also pro­vided 75 com­pli­men­tary tick­ets to the schools.

The Rams have drawn head­lines this year for be­com­ing the first NFL team to draft an openly gay player in Michael Sam.

Coach Jeff Fisher said the team had been “brain­storm­ing” how to get in­volved and thought of kids who are be­ing de­prived.

“It’s just very, very sad and we hope that things get worked out as soon as they pos­si­bly can, but this is dif­fer­ent,” Fisher said. “This is foot­ball play­ers. This will be some­thing that I hope they’ll always re­mem­ber.”

Britt said that never hap­pened when he was a kid. “To see kids here and be in­spired by play­ers like us,” he said, was en­cour­ag­ing.

Af­ter a re­cent 6-1 home­s­tand, Car­di­nals man­ager Mike Matheny said he hoped his team’s surge would pro­vide a wel­come di­ver­sion. Maybe com­mon ground, too.

“I think base­ball, not just in St. Louis but in the coun­try, has served very well in that re­gard,” Matheny said. “It seems like base­ball is a great fo­cal point.”

— The As­so­ci­ated Press

MARK HUMPHREY / THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILES

Wide re­ceiver Kenny Britt can re­late to the drama near Rams Park.

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