Published: Wed, September 14, 2016
Sport | By Billy Aguilar

NFL New Season Opens with Further National Anthem Protests

NFL New Season Opens with Further National Anthem Protests

As the NFL ushered its new season, Marcus Peters, the Kansas City cornerback, sang the national anthem with a raised black-gloved fist. The protest intensified with four players of the Miami Dolphins kneeling with hands on their hearts in Seattle. It seems QB Colin Kaepernick’s gesture during preseason inspired the rest of the players when he chose to sit during the singing of the national anthem to push the government to address black oppression issues as NFL odds reflected the unfolding outcome.

According to Kaepernick, he decided to take part in the protest to create awareness about the oppression of minorities and to bring about change. He also clarified that he has no disrespect for the armed forces and he loves every American without bias or prejudice. In the same way, Miami’s Jelani Jenkins, also echoed the same sentiments, as one of the Dolphin players to kneel. He said that he wants to continue pushing forward in the right direction with all Americans who have equal rights and opportunity, but the current situation is deviant.

During the first games on Sunday, it was only Peter’s gesture, which was visible, as the whole stadium stood to sing the national anthem in remembrance of the September 11 attacks. After the Chief’s 33-27 overtime win over San Diego in overtime, Peter said that he comes from Oakland, California where majority of Black live and he sees their struggle. However, four Miami players, including Michael Thomas, Arian Foster, Kenny Stills and Jenkins protested just before kickoff, but later stood while President Obama made the 15th anniversary speech of the 9/11 attack.

Foster expressed his sentiments saying that people should stop being upset about them kneeling because people from different religions kneel ever Sunday to show their gratitude to God. Therefore, the whole protest is not about the knee or its symbolism, but, it is about the message and the right time to convey it. Many NFL teams had their players linking their arms during the anthem. In the far end of the Chief’s line was the 2015 defensive rookie of the year, Peters, who chose to raise his arm because it was free. Brandon Marshall, the Broncos linebacker and Kaepernick’s teammate in college at Nevada, knelt while the national anthem was sung on Thursday night. 

Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, did not support Kaepernick’s protest last week. The past few weeks has seen Seattle’s locker room discussing lengthily about the message that the protests convey. Coach Pete Carroll and Dr. Harry Edwards were among those chosen by the players for the discussions. Dr. Edwards simply declared that gestures do not mean anything if not finished off and Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman agreed with his sentiments saying that they will act instead of showing their confused gestures to create awareness.

Doug Baldwin, Seattle’s wide receiver and the spokesperson of the discussions said that the players have planned to meet the mayor of Seattle, along with the local police to help create change and improvement. He added that change is inevitable, but people must implement the right direction to create change and progress. All stadiums played recorded messages of Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, as Bush went to Arlington, Texas to join fans in the Giants-Cowboys match, while Philadelphia hosted Vice President Joe Biden for Browns-Eagles match.

Peter’s black-gloved fist gesture also paid a tribute to John Carlos and Tommie Smith, the U.S. sprinters who won bronze and gold medals respectively during the 1968 Olympics in the 200-meter race. Their “human rights salute” was the same as Peter’s. In the night game, Devin McCourty and Martellus Bennett of New England both held and raised up their right arms, while their co-player Danny Amendola clutched an unfolded American flag in Arizona. After their “human rights salute”, the International Olympic Committee demanded for the expulsion of both athletes from the games.

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