Jared Cook says he'd repeat 'hands up' gesture despite criticism

Jared Cook says he'd repeat 'hands up' gesture despite criticism
St. Louis Rams players (from left) Stedman Bailey (12), Tavon Austin (11), Jared Cook, (89) Chris Givens (13) and Kenny Britt (81) raise their arms in reference to the events in Ferguson, Mo. Police demanded an apology from the team. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

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, Mo., 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. "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 "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."

No more Toronto games for Bills

Buffalo Bills President Russ Brandon announced that the team is done playing annual regular-season "home" games in Toronto after reaching an agreement with Rogers Communications to terminate the four remaining years of the series.

The decision did not come as a surprise after the Bills had a 1-5 record since the series was established with a five-year agreement in 2008. The Bills and Rogers reached another five-year deal in 2013 to extend the series.

Last month, new Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula told the Associated Press they were negotiating to cancel the series. In March, the Bills and Rogers postponed playing this year's game to evaluate and determine how to improve the atmosphere of games played in Toronto's downtown domed Rogers Centre.

The series' days were numbered immediately following a 34-31 overtime loss to Atlanta last year.


That's when Brandon and several Bills players went public in questioning the competitive edge the team was losing in giving away home-field advantage by playing in front of small and relatively indifferent crowds in Toronto.

Receiver Steve Johnson questioned whether the warm-weather Falcons "fixed" the schedule in getting to play indoors. Center Eric Wood had referred to the games in Toronto as "a joke."

Several Bills veterans welcomed the decision following practice Wednesday.

"I don't want to get too into it, because I got way too into it at one point," Wood said. "But yeah, we're all excited to keep our home game."

Added running back Fred Jackson: "It really wasn't a home game for us. It was more of a neutral crowd. And that was something that we didn't like about it."

In becoming the NFL's first team to play annual games outside of the United States, the Bills launched the series in a bid to increase their exposure and build their fan base in Canada's largest city and financial capital. Toronto is about a two-hour drive from Buffalo and counted as part of the Bills market.


Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson won't attend the conclusion of his suspension appeal hearing Thursday when NFL executive Troy Vincent is scheduled to testify, two people familiar with the case told the Associated Press. Peterson gave a statement without testifying on Tuesday, according to one person. ... Six weeks after breaking his collarbone, Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller returned to practice in a move that opens the possibility of him being eligible to resume playing in two weeks. ... Tennessee Titans rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger said he "definitely" would play Sunday against the New York Giants despite a sprained right shoulder. ... New Orleans Saints running back Khiry Robinson, who has missed the last six games with a forearm injury, returned to practice on a limited basis. ... New York Jets kicker Nick Folk did not practice because of a hip flexor injury, but remained optimistic he would be ready to go against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. ... Carolina Panthers Coach Ron Rivera said rookie Bene Benwikere will start at cornerback on Sunday against New Orleans. Benwikere replaces veteran Antoine Cason, who was waived on Tuesday. ... Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray was cleared to play against San Francisco on Sunday after missing the previous game with a concussion.