Numerous NFL players joined 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in protesting during the national anthem before NFL games on Sunday.
Kaepernick was the first NFL player this season to make a statement with his actions during the anthem. He began by sitting during the national anthem before preseason games, but later decided to take a knee instead after speaking with former Seahawks long snapper and Army veteran Nate Boyer.
Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall kneeled before Thursday’s season opener against the Panthers and the practice has also spread to colleges and high schools.
On the first Sunday of the season, several players followed suit.
Marcus Peters, Chiefs
While Chiefs players stood together for the anthem and locked arms, Peters raised a glove fist in an image reminiscent of John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the 1968 Olympics.
“We’re here for the duration; we’re not going away,” Carlos told The Kansas City Star after seeing Peters’s gesture. “What you see today is the fruit of our labor.”
Peters said he told head coach Andy Reid before the game that he planned to raise his fist.
“Listen, I’m going to tell you we’re in America,” Reid said afted the game, according to the Star. “This kid comes from Oakland and does a phenomenal job in the community and Oakland. There’s no question he respects … law enforcement, military; you don’t ever question that with this guy.”
Running back Arian Foster, linebacker Jelani Jenkins, receiver Kenny Stills and safety Michael Thomas all kneeled during the anthem.
“They say it’s not the time to do this,” Foster said, according to USA Today. “When is the time? It’s never the time in somebody else’s eye, because they’ll always feel like it’s good enough. And some people don’t. That's the beautiful thing about this country. If somebody feels it’s not good enough, they have that right. That’s all we’re doing, exercising that right.”
The Dolphins released a statement saying they respected their players’ rights to protest.
The Seahawks players on the other side of the field locked arms, as they said they would Saturday.
Devin McCourty and Martellus Bennett, Patriots
Before their Sunday Night Football game against the Cardinals, McCourty and Bennett stood for the anthem and raised their fists after it concluded.
“I wore socks with the American flag. I believe in this country. I love this country,” McCourty said, according to ESPN.com. “My father was in the Army. My older brother was in the Army. Those men and women go out there and put their life on the line. I respect that. That’s the reason why I didn’t do anything during the national anthem because I respect it. You talk to people about how much respect they have for the flag. That’s why they believe. That’s why they go fight. Nothing but respect for that.”