Widespread, Defiant Anthem Protests by NFL Players in Response to Trump

September 25, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


Ravens take a knee during the National Anthem.

Members of the Baltimore Ravens (above) and the Jacksonville Jaguars (right). At the game in London between them, 27 players knelt during the U.S. anthem.

On Friday, Donald Trump attacked the players in the NFL who are not standing during the national anthem in protest of police murders and brutality and social injustice. In a speech in Alabama, Trump said that “If someone disrespects our flag, get that son of a bitch off the field. Out. He’s fired.”

At almost all the NFL games on Sunday, many players and others defiantly responded to Trump by protesting during the anthem in one way or another:

  • At the game in London between the Baltimore Ravens and the Jacksonville Jaguars, 27 players knelt during the anthem on opposing sidelines.
  • New York Giants vs. Philadelphia Eagles: three Giants—Landon Collins, Damon Harrison, and Oliver Vernon—knelt for the first time this year at the game held in Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The rest of the Giants locked arms in solidarity, including Coach Ben McAdoo, Super Bowl winning quarterback Eli Manning, and Geno Smith.
  • The entire Pittsburgh Steelers team, except for one player, did not take the field during the anthem before their game.
  • In the Seattle Seahawks vs. Tennessee Titans game, no player was on the field during the anthem.
  • The New York Jets players and staff linked arms with their owner during the anthem before their game with the Miami Dolphins. Several Dolphin players donned #IMWITHKAP T-shirts on the field during warmups in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, the former SF 49er quarterback who is being blackballed from the league for leading the anthem protest last season;
  • Before the game between the New England Patriots and the Houston Texans, at least 10 Patriot players took a knee as the fans booed them;
  • LeSean McCoy of the Buffalo Bills, who called Trump an “a-hole” after the Alabama speech, stayed on the ground doing stretching exercises during the anthem while several Bills players knelt and locked arms.
  • During the Detroit Lions vs. Atlanta Falcons game, as both teams stood on the sidelines with arms locked during the anthem, Rico Lavelle, who was singing the national anthem, dropped to a knee when he got to the world “brave” with his fist raised;
  • In addition to these protests, public statements were issued by the players of the Seattle Seahawks and the Tennessee Titans.

As this is being written, two games have yet to be played this week: the Oakland Raiders at the Washington Redskins tonight, and the Dallas Cowboys at the Arizona Cardinals Monday night. It is reported that the entire offensive line of the Raiders, all Black players, are going to do some sort of protest during the anthem. And Marshawn Lynch of the Raiders will be sitting during the anthem as he has done all season. The first NFL game of the week, between the SF 49ers and the LA Rams, was held before Trump made his comment. But in that game, Eric Reid of the 49ers knelt during the anthem as he has been doing for the past two seasons—last year alongside Colin Kaepernick. And the owner of the 49ers¸ Jed York, called Trump’s statement “callous” and “offensive.”

Bruce Maxwell of the Oakland A’s became the first Major League Baseball player to take the knee during the anthem when he did so at the game Saturday in Oakland, as a white teammate put his hand on Maxwell’s shoulder in support.

This past week has seen a firestorm of opposition to Trump from the world of sports. Sportscaster Jemele Hill of ESPN tweeted out that Trump is a “white supremacist.” The White House called for her to be fired. Stephen Curry, of this year’s NBA champion Golden State Warriors, said he was not going to attend any team celebration at the White House. This prompted Trump to say he was disinviting the Warriors. Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James responded by calling Trump a “bum” and saying, “We’ve got Jemele Hill and Colin Kaepernick and all these people are speaking up, and it’s for the greater cause.”

Now, in a powerful, defiant show of unity, players throughout the NFL have turned on Trump. This is a very exciting and welcomed development in the sports world, with reverberations reaching and inspiring people in a way that has not been seen since the 1960s Black power and anti-Vietnam war movement, when athletes like Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith, and John Carlos risked their careers to make powerful statements that inspired and contributed to advancing the mass struggles to stop the Vietnam War and against the oppression of Black people in this country.



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