NFL National Anthem Protests: Players Kneel, Raise Fists In Thursday Games

Rex Christensen
August 10, 2018

The protests about racial injustice and social inequality led players to kneel during the anthem and it was a big issue at National Football League games last season.

The Sun-Sentinel reported that wide receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson sat on the bench while other players lined up for the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner before kickoff against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Philadelphia Eagles Malcolm Jenkins, who plays safety, and De'Vante Bausby, a cornerback, also raised their fists, according to The Philadelphia Enquirer.

Eagles defensive end Michael Bennett, a frequent protestor previous year when he played for the Seattle Seahawks, walked out of the tunnel as the anthem played.

During pregame warmups, multiple Eagles players wore T-shirts raising awareness about voter registration and prison populations.

The NFL introduced a new national anthem policy this season. The players included Jalen Ramsey, Telvin Smith, Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon. The league has been under pressure from President Trump and his followers to take action against players who take a knee in a silent protest against racism.

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Thursday marked the first full slate of exhibition games.

It was a show of solidarity with the ongoing protests against police brutality and racial injustice, launched by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016 and banned by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in May.

Stills has routinely knelt for the anthem during his time with the team.

The new policy was met with a lot of disdain from the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), who stated that they were not consulted prior to the NFL's decision being publicized. "In order to allow this constructive dialogue to continue, we have come to a standstill agreement on the NFLPA's grievance and on the NFL's anthem policy".

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