Members of the Washington Redskins knelt and held hands during the national anthem on Sunday, September 24, 2017. PHOTO CREDIT: Brad Mills/USA Today Sports, via Reuters & NY Times
With the NFL season just starting earlier this month, players united across the country on Sunday night in a sweeping display of protest. Three teams skipped the national anthem altogether while dozens of players knelt or linked arms in solidarity. This peaceful protest came about in reaction to President Trump’s tweets over the weekend that scolded players for kneeling during the anthem. Over the past year, a few NFL players (most notably, Colin Kaepernick) have declined to stand for the national anthem in order to raise awareness of police brutality and racial injustice. President Trump harshly criticized these players and said they should all be fired.
Every NFL game on Sunday possessed some form of protest or demonstration during the national anthem. The Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans, and Seattle Seahawks all stayed in their locker rooms during the anthem, leaving the field eerily quiet and empty.
“As a team, we have decided we will not participate in the national anthem. We will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of color in this country. Out of love for our country and in honor of the sacrifices made on our behalf, we unite to oppose those that would deny our most basic freedoms. We remain committed in continuing to work towards equality and justice for all.
Respectfully, The Players of the Seattle Seahawks.”
The strongest display of protest came from the Oakland Raiders where nearly the entire team knelt or sat during the national anthem before playing the Washington Redskins. Some players who hadn’t previously knelt during the anthem explained why they did this week:
“To have the president trying to intimidate people — I wanted to send a message that I don’t condone that. I’m not O.K. with somebody trying to prevent someone from standing up for what they think is important.
Lots of people don’t have a voice, and I wanted to tell those folks that they’re not alone. I used my position to try to empower everybody who seeks equality.” ~ Julius Thomas of the Miami Dolphins, via NY Times