Before the singing of the national anthem, please join Ravens player and coaches and the entire Ravens organization to pray that we as a nation embrace kindness, unity, equality and justice for all Americans,” read the announcer who later posted on social media that he was proud to read this.
But a sea of boos from the stadium would follow, despite the fact that after kneeling ten seconds to pray, they all stood in unison for the national anthem. So began the second week of mass protests in the National Football League.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell held a summit—attended by owners and some players—about the protests that started with former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, during which it was said that he didn’t personally push for players to stop kneeling.
However, Giants co-owner John Mara asked his team not to kneel during the anthem as did Lions owner Martha Ford who reportedly added that she would financially support their cause.
And while most stood for the anthem, some players kneeled, some raised fists and some sat on the bench.
What was noticeably different was the desire on the part of players to distinguish that they were not protesting the flag. To that end, Indianapolis Colts players released a statement to address the misconceptions, stating, “those of us who knelt did not intend to disrespect our flag, our National Anthem or those who serve our country…
“But as NFL players, we have a platform. And as Americans, we have a responsibility to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Our intention was to raise awareness and continue critical conversations about real equality, the injustices against black and brown people, police brutality, respect, unity, and equal opportunity.”
From the San Francisco 49ers, the team Colin Kaepernick once led to the Super Bowl, came another statement, a portion of which read as follows: For more than a year, members of our team have protested the oppression and social injustices still present in our society. While some may not have taken a knee or raised a fist, we have all shared the desire to influence positive change."
Perhaps Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch summed up the sentiment for most when he arrived at the Denver stadium donning a T-shirt that read, “Everybody against Trump.”
Meanwhile, in a memo sent out to all 30 NBA teams, the rule that players and coaches must stand for the anthem was stressed.