Unlike the battle between the NFL and the president in which the issue as to why the flag and national anthem protests are taking place has become convoluted, Albright College sophomore quarterback Gyree Durante is crystal clear about his protests.
“My specific reason is to peacefully protest all the racial and social injustices in our country and what our president had to say about NFL players taking a knee,” said the 19-year-old sophomore quarterback who was kicked off the team earlier this week. “ I just felt like I didn’t want to stand for the flag if that is how the president felt and that is how the country feels.”
Durante, a Norristown native and business student with a 3.2 grade point average, was kicked off the team at the Division III college in Reading after refusing to stand during the playing of the national anthem prior to a 41-6 loss to Delaware Valley University on Oct. 7. He was notified on Monday in a meeting with coach John Marzka that he was being kicked off the team.
However, the problem began on Sept. 30 when Durante, a reserve, took a knee prior to a 34-31 win over King’s College. Durante said Marzka ordered him to stand but he refused. Ultimately, two teammates dragged him reluctantly to his feet.
Attempts to reach Marzka were referred to a university spokesperson.
In a meeting in the coach’s office following the win over King’s, Marzka informed Durante that if he did not stand in the future for the anthem he would be booted from the team. Durante said he told the coach he would not stand.
The following day, the team’s 24-member leadership council decided that for the Delaware Valley game the team would kneel during the coin toss and stand during the national anthem. Durante got wind of this before it was announced and told his father, who supported his decision to take a knee, that he did not agree with the decision of the leadership council.
“I told him that if you told them you were not going to stand for the anthem you know they would kick you off the team right now,” Ronnell Durante said. “He would have never gotten to Saturday. So, I told him, ‘just keep your mouth shut, nod your head, and then on Saturday do what you do.’”
Durante said he intends to transfer. As of Wednesday, Ronnell Durante said he had only spoken to Marzka and Rick Ferry, director of athletics, via text.
Gyree Durante added that he intends to play football wherever he finishes college.
“Not necessarily,” he said, when asked if he felt he was being robbed of an opportunity to play football due to his beliefs. “There are other opportunities for me to play football. But in the big picture, I feel this is way bigger than football. This really has nothing to do with football. My big goal is to just finish my education and get my degree.”