If you tuned into any NFL games this weekend, you probably noticed players kneeling during the national anthem. This is why players from the Patriots, Steelers and more teams took a knee to take a stand.
Despite what President Donald Trump, 71, has shouted and tweeted, the act of kneeling during the national anthem has nothing to do with “disrespect for our country and our flag.” Athletes are taking a knee as the “Star Spangled Banner” plays to acknowledge and protest the social and racial injustice POC face every day. The movement was first started by San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick during the 2016 season, when he kneeled by himself at the beginning of a game. His action stunned and offended conservatives who saw the act as unpatriotic. But it wasn’t, he argued; he merely refused to “honor a song or show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
He also cited the growing number of shootings of black men in the United States by police officers, and the fact that many, if not most, officers involved are found not guilty. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way,” Colin told NFL Media at the time. “There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” Though they will not admit it, the NFL effectively blackballed Colin this season, as he let go from the 49ers and not signed to another team.
But things changed. President Trump shockingly said in a speech on September 23 that the NFL should fire and “son of a bitch” who “disrespects our flag.” That horrible statement stoked a fire within the league, and a group of players — and even whole teams — planned to kneel during the national anthem at their respective games. Their actions aren’t a protest against Trump. It’s a continuation of what Colin started, a protest against police brutality, and an act of solidarity with those “sons of bitches” the president’s targeting.
Players from teams like the New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, the Denver Broncos and the Miami Dolphins, took knees during the anthem. With the Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans, and Pittsburgh Steelers — the entire teams didn’t even take the field during the national anthem. During the Seahawks vs. Titans game, national anthem singer Meghan Linsey took a knee after her performance. A number of players who didn’t kneel instead stood behind the protestors with their arms linked together in another sign of unity.