Five members of the NFL's St. Louis Rams picked the wrong time and place to take sides in the Michael Brown shooting. They also picked the wrong side.
When the five players came out of the tunnel before yesterday's game at the Edward Jones Dome in downtown St. Louis and struck the "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" pose popularized by protestors in Ferguson, Missouri, they weren't just speaking for themselves. Whether or not they were aware of it, they were representing the St. Louis Rams and the National Football League. Neither the team nor the league were notified in advance about what the players had in mind, and common sense dictates that both organizations would have strongly discouraged the gesture, if not forbidden it outright. Inciting fans to riot isn't part of the pro football public relations playbook.
Of course, there was no riot. In fact, there was virtually no in-stadium reaction to the gesture, because the vast majority of right-thinking people have accepted a grand jury decision that favored painstaking examination of the evidence showing police officer Darren Wilson feared for his life when he shot and fatally wounded unarmed robbery and assault suspect Michael Brown.
Post-game interviews with the players suggested they were acting in good faith but are relatively clueless about the Brown case. They didn't even think they were taking sides by making a gesture that the St. Louis Police Officers Association vigorously condemned as "tasteless, offensive and inflammatory". As social activists, the Rams Five make great football players. They should focus on football, and leave the policing to the police and the social activism to the rioters and looters.