The NFL national anthem protests have continued into the 2018-19 preseason. While they began two years ago with then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, a number of players have joined in to protest police brutality and racial injustice.
But while the root of the NFL players’ issue is sincere and coming from a good place, their method of protesting — kneeling while the “Star Spangled Banner” is played — has rubbed people the wrong way for a perceived lack of respect for the men and women who have fought for the country to defend our rights.
While the protests have continued, the league has released a statement on the matter.
“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,” the statement said, via NFL.com. “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.
“We remain committed to working with the players to identify solutions and to continue making progress on important social issues affecting our communities.”
Initially, there was a rule in place by the NFL that required any player on the field to stand for the anthem as it was played. However, plays were still afforded the right to remain off the field during the national anthem in order to continue their protest. That rule was eventually shelved as the NFL Player’s Association and league tried to come to an agreement.
So for now, the protests will continue.
Who are the players who have kneeled, remained in the locker room or raised a fist while the anthem was played during the 2018-19 NFL preseason? Here is a look at every player to continue protesting while the league and NFLPA sort out the issue.
2018 NFL Preseason — Week 1 Protests
According to Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, Dolphins wide receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson took a knee during the “Star-Spangled Banner” ahead of their preseason meeting with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Robert Quinn, a defensive end for the Dolphins, joined in the protest by raising his fist.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that two members of the Eagles — defensive back Malcolm Jenkins and De’Vante Bausby — raised their fists during the national anthem. Defensive end Michael Bennett remained in the tunnel, while Chris Long placed his arm around Jenkins and his raised fist.
Jenkins also wore a shirt during pre-game warmups that read “You Aren’t Listening.”
Los Angeles Chargers
Los Angeles Chargers left tackle Russell Okung raised his fist during the national anthem in Week 1 of the preseason. After the game, he explained his reasoning which is to bring attention to police brutality and racial discrimination.
“One, we’re not protesting the president of the United States,” Okung said, via Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times. “I think it’s unfortunate that the president , I guess, does not respect advanced American citizenship, in terms of what our country actually looks like – the reflection of that. Our country is a place where there has always been creative conflict in order for us to move forward. I think what we’re doing now is healthy.
“It’s no direct reflection of disrespect for the military. I think all the guys who have protested are definitely for the military. It’s been unfortunate to see the president has worked to gain political points by putting players down.
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“I think it’s pretty simple. I think the way laws are set up, whether we’re looking at the civil rights amendment, people have abilities and [power] in which how they can handle people and handle people from certain backgrounds,” Okung said. “I think police brutality is a really difficult issue in this country and disproportionate to people of color — black people specifically. I think it’s important to further that conversation and really look forward to ways of change.
“I think there have been a lot of conversations. People are really aware of things that people . . . people maybe never saw this as an issue before. It’s just so unfortunate that people try to shift the narrative for their own interests and create propaganda around these issues.”
2018 NFL Preseason — Week 2 Protests
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Albert Wilson once again kneeled for the anthem. However, this time he was on his own. The only other member of the team to join in any form of protest was defensive end Robert Quinn who raised his hand for the second straight week.
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#RealAmericanHeroes Bless these men for continuing to be brave against an ongoing national massacre. #RobertQuinn #ChrisLong #MalcolmJenkins #KennyStills #AlbertWilson #MichaelThomas all yesterday at the season openers. And of course #ColinKaepernick. #ThankYou #MiamiDolphins @miamidolphins #PhiladelphiaEagles @philadelphiaeagles #SanFrancisco49ers #49ers @49ers #BlackLivesMatter #ShowYourSupport! @nfl
“It’s just something that’s been heavy on my heart, heavy on my mind,” Wilson said, via USA TODAY. “Just two incidents in my city that happened. I’m pretty much the biggest thing in my city, so I have a chance to take a stance on it.”
After wearing his “You Aren’t Listening” pre-game warmup t-shirt and raising his fist during the anthem in Week 1, Jenkins opted to remain in the team’s tunnel as the anthem played in Week 2.
This post will continue to be updated throughout the season as the NFL national anthem protests continue.
2018 NFL Preseason — Week 3 Protests
A handful of players continued to protest through Week 3 of the NFL preseason. Among those were Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Malcolm Jenkins — one of the most outspoken players in the league who has continued to protest since shortly after Colin Kaepernick began the wave. Jenkins also made a statement with his choice of shirt during pre-game warmups.
As he took the field at Gillette Stadium, Jenkins’ shirt read: “You aren’t listening.”
2018 NFL Regular Season — Week 1 Protests
As the 2018-19 NFL regular season officially kicked off, a number of networks made the decision not to air the national anthem. However, reports on social media suggested that the protests resumed into the regular season with the Miami Dolphins wide receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson taking a knee while teammate Robert Quinn raised his fist.
Colin Kaepernick gave a shoutout to Stills and Wilson on social media when the protests came to light.
Following the protests, Donald Trump rushed to Twitter to continue voicing his thoughts on the matter while taking a shot at recent NFL ratings.
During the Oakland Raiders’ season-opener against the Los Angeles Rams, running back Marshawn Lynch declined to stand. Lynch had previously sat on the bench during the national anthem for the prior season.