A handful of N.F.L. players protesting against social inequality and police brutality by raising fists or kneeling during the American national anthem have suggested they will do the same during the upcoming season, noting their freedom of speech and desire to educate the country’s viewers on much larger issues than simply football.

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On the other side of the game are dozens of retired National Football League players who also have decided they will take a knee this year, at any available opportunity, not because of any innate sense of patriotism or to comment on current events, rather because of general discomfort in the knee region.

“Damned if I can’t stand-up straight half the time,” commented former defensive lineman for the Chicago Bears William “The Refrigerator” Perry. He continued, “I feel like I’m carrying a sack of old chicken bones on the back of my knee. They’re just weighing me down, pulling at me, whatever. Not great. It’s from the years of being the best, I guess.”

Though many ex-N.F.L. stars were contacted for comment on such things as social inequality, political discourse and regional law enforcement issues that have been plaguing the news cycle as of late, almost all players seemed fairly distant from the problems of our modern world, let alone the symbolic nature of ‘taking a knee’ prior to the game.

“The only time I take a knee is when I can’t get up after trying to reach my pizza crust. I always drop it, I can never reach it, I mean the whole thing is a nightmare. Especially because my fingers are all slippery from ranch sauce. I use that for dipping” commented former Seattle Seahawks player Brian “The Boz” Bosworth.

Though former professional players may not have much in common, there is one unshakeable bond that seems to resonate with the players both new and old: “Boz is right on with that ranch dipping move, that shit’s delicious” said current Denver Broncos player LeSean “Shady” McCoy, who along with 31 other teammates protested the national anthem prior to a game during the 2017 N.F.L. season.

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