By R.B. Fallstrom
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
ST. LOUIS _ Jared Cook said he’d “absolutely” repeat the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” gesture he and four teammates made during Sunday’s game.
Even if he’s receiving threats or it costs the St. Louis Rams some fans.
The tight end was designated spokesman Wednesday for the five-player group that made the gesture before Sunday’s win over Oakland. He explained it was not just a show of solidarity for Ferguson protesters but for peaceful demonstrations everywhere.
Asked in hindsight whether the group might have taken a different tack that wouldn’t have antagonized law enforcement officials, he answered: “We could have, absolutely. But would we? Absolutely not.”
Players met with coach Jeff Fisher and Cook said they weren’t asked to refrain from further displays. But he didn’t think they’d do it again in the team’s two remaining home games.
“I think we kind of got our point across,” Cook said Wednesday night. “Especially now, I think the world understands a little more why we did it.”
Cook, Kenny Britt, Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and Chris Givens realize they’ve become polarizing figures, and that some fans may stay away.
“I understand that,” Cook said. “They have to understand that we’re ambassadors for them as well as other parts of St. Louis. It’s a common place for people to get together and have fun. It’s the Edward Jones Dome, baby. The greatest show on turf, baby. How could you not want to have fun and enjoy that?”
The pose has overshadowed the Rams’ overpowering showing in a 52-0 rout over Oakland the last few days. The St. Louis Police Officers Association expressed outrage, Fisher said there’d be no disciplinary action and a top team executive denied he’d apologized to law enforcement officials.
Cook said he’s “absolutely” received threats.
“It’s all on the computer,” Cook said. “How can you really tell if somebody’s typing keys?”
The player teared up when told a group representing St. Louis black police officers had endorsed the “Hands Up” gesture, saying “that’s pretty amazing.”
Fisher called the meeting with players a “really, really productive conversation,” but declined to elaborate. He’s also staying out of the controversy with law enforcement.
“I’m a football coach, OK? So I’m not going to go into detail whatsoever,” Fisher said.
The “Hands Up” gesture became controversial in St. Louis long before a grand jury last week declined to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of unarmed Michael Brown in August. Some witnesses testified that Brown charged the police car and did not have his hands raised, but Cook said it’s the symbolism that counts.
“’Hands Up, Don’t Shoot’ is not just a Ferguson thing, it’s a worldwide thing,” Cook said. “People are doing it in New York, people are doing it in Florida, people are doing it on the West Coast.
“It’s a message worldwide that you can do things peacefully without getting out of line.”
The Rams (5-7) play Sunday at Washington, the only other NFL franchise with players who made a similar gesture. Eleven Redskins did it during the preseason not long after the shooting, but with very little public reaction.
“I like the fact that guys are willing to take a stand, one way or another, whether you agree with it or not,” Redskins safety Ryan Clark said. “I obviously have my opinions on it, but I don’t think what they did should be punished by the league.’
Clark added he thought it was “absolutely absurd that the authorities in St. Louis wanted it to happen.”
“So I think it’s really cool that those guys felt strongly enough and showed the solidarity among one another, whether you agree with their stance or not, to go out and actually say, ‘OK, this is how we feel,”’ Clark said.
AP Sports Writer Joseph White contributed to this report.
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