Colin Kaepernick and Donald Trump weigh in as NFL anthem protests continue in preseason

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Philadelphia Eagles' Malcolm Jenkins raised his fist during the national anthem, receiving support from Chris Long.
Philadelphia Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins raised his fist during the national anthem, receiving support from Chris Long.

Image: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The NFL’s 2018 preseason has officially begun and several players are keeping Colin Kaepernick’s controversial protests alive.

During the National Anthem on Thursday, players at four separate games chose take a knee, raise their fists, or remain in the locker room during the National Anthem, in protest of police brutality and racism in America.

According to Sports Illustrated, Philadelphia Eagles’ De’Vante Bausby and Malcolm Jenkins raised their fists during the anthem, while Michael Bennett walked onto the field after the anthem finished playing. Defensive end Chris Long placed his left hand on Jenkins’ shoulder in support.

Jacksonville Jaguars players Jalen Ramsey, Telvin Smith, Leonard Fournette, and T.J. Yeldon remained off the field during the National Anthem, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwin and Miami Dolphins defensive end Robert Quinn raised their fists, and Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson of the Dolphins kneeled in protest.

It’s been two years since former quarterback Colin Kaepernick was ousted from the NFL after he began kneeling during the anthem. In the time since his movement’s spread throughout the sport, prompting the NFL to implement new rules about conduct during the anthem. Those are currently on hold, pending further discussion.

Following the first night of preseason protests, Kaepernick tweeted his gratitude for those who continued to protest the “systemic oppression” of black people in the U.S. He also used the hashtag #imwithreid to show support for Eric Reid, the former San Francisco 49ers safety who protested alongside him, and who now also is a free agent.  

On Friday morning, President Donald Trump addressed the Thursday protests on Twitter, reemphasizing his view that any player who does not stand during the anthem should be “suspended without pay.”

But despite the president’s public condemnation, football fans and players joined Kaepernick in offering support on social media to those still protesting and standing by their beliefs.

While the on-field protest rules are still being discussed, the NFL released the following statement about Thursday night’s protests:

“The NFL has been engaged in constructive discussions with the NFL Players Association regarding the anthem and issues of equality and social justice that are of concern to many Americans. While those discussions continue, the NFL has agreed to delay implementing or enforcing any club work rules that could result in players being disciplined for their conduct during the performance of the anthem.

Meanwhile, there has been no change in the NFL’s policy regarding the national anthem. The anthem will continue to be played before every game, and all player and non-player personnel on the field at that time are expected to stand during the presentation of the flag and performance of the anthem. 

Personnel who do not wish to do so can choose to remain in the locker room.

We remain committed to working with the players to identify solutions and to continue making progress on important social issues affecting our communities.”

Over the years big names like Jay-Z and Stevie Wonder have publicly supported the NFL protests, and at the recent NFL Hall of Fame induction ceremony, former wide receiver Randy Moss — now an ESPN NFL analyst — wore a tie that displayed the names of twelve black men and women who were killed by police.

As these players’ sentiments on social justice continue to receive support both on and off the field, we’ll see if the NFL has a change of heart. 

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