More NFL players are planning sit during their pregame ceremonies while the National Anthem plays, continuing the protest that began in earnest with Colin Kaepernick last year.
Kaepernick received torrents of criticism for his refusal to stand during the anthem, an action he said he took to bring awareness to racial disparities and inequality across the nation.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said last August. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.”
His political views likely contributed to his current employment situation — despite having a quarterback rating higher than Carolina’s Cam Newton or New York’s Eli Manning, is unsigned and without a team for the 2017 season.
But Kaepernick’s decision to kneel is being adopted by more players across the league who share his views. Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch sat out of the National Anthem at a preseason game earlier this year. And Michael Bennett, who plays defensive end for the Seattle Seahawks, sat down on the players’ bench while the anthem played before a preseason game earlier this week.
— Dennis Bernstein (@DennisTFP) August 14, 2017
Bennett explained that he was using his platform as an NFL starter to prompt a national discussion of race relations and inequalities in the U.S., especially in light of the events of the past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“The last week, with everything that’s been going on in the last couple months — especially after the last couple days seeing everything in Virginia … [I] wanted to be able to continue to use my platform to be able to speak on injustice,” he told reporters.
Lynch and Bennett will not be the only players to sit following the violence in Charlottesville, according to Mike Freeman of the Bleacher Report. More will kneel due to “league-wide outrage over Charlottesville,” and a minimal “reaction from [President Donald] Trump” over the violence, he says.