We’re in Week 5 of the 2017 season, and two things haven’t changed. NFL players continue to protest during the national anthem, and they’re still being met with opposition from some fans.
Players kneeling or sitting during the anthem to protest racial inequality isn’t the only storyline. Teams have continued to respond to comments made by President Donald Trump calling any player who demonstrates during the anthem a “son of a bitch” and insisting owners should fire them on the spot. It’s valid to explore whether these “displays of unity” detract from the original meaning behind the protest.
When Colin Kaepernick first was seen sitting during the national anthem in the 2016 preseason, he made it clear that he was protesting oppression of black people and police brutality. Once Trump got involved and spurred so many players and owners to action, “unity” became more of the focal point.
And although the focus has shifted, and many of the demonstrations aren’t happening during the actual national anthem, that hasn’t stopped fans from being furious about it.
In Week 4, the Ravens kneeled before the anthem to pray together as a team. Their intent was announced in the stadium, but fans still booed — making it clear their backlash wasn’t really about patriotism.
These displays of unity have ranged from locking arms during the anthem to kneeling as a team before the song begins. On Thursday before the Patriots played the Buccaneers, there was a different kind of demonstration: a moment of silence for all of those impacted by the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas last Sunday.
It’s likely that protests and shows of unity will continue in Week 5. Here’s what we know so far, and we’ll update with details of any demonstrations as they take place.
Colts players establish a Fund for Equality
On Friday, the Colts announced that players would establish a fund for equality. Owner Jim Irsay will kick in $100,000 to get the fund started.
“The fund will support charities that are working to promote equality, improve relationships between law enforcement and the community, and provide opportunities for minorities,” the statement read.
Colts just sent this press release. It's part of what players meant when talking abt "putting actions behind words" pic.twitter.com/HzkbCcOSP1— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) October 6, 2017
All Lions players stand and link arms
For the first time, all members of the Lions stood and linked arms during the national anthem:
Both Jalen Reeves-Maybin & Steve Longa are standing & linking arms w/Lions teammates for the national anthem. Both took a knee last 2 weeks— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) October 8, 2017
Every other Lions player also standing & joining arms with teammates— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) October 8, 2017
Giants’ Olivier Vernon continues to kneel
Giants DE Olivier Vernon, in street clothes on the sidelines, again kneeled during the national anthem. Rest of the Giants linked arms.— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoSNY) October 8, 2017
Dolphins’ Kenny Stills, Julius Thomas, Mike Thomas stay in the locker room during the anthem
The Dolphins all stood for the anthem, except three players — all of whom have been kneeling during the anthem —- who were not on the field:
All the Dolphins on the field stood for the national anthem. Kenny Stills, Julius Thomas, Mike Thomas not on field. Came out after anthem.— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) October 8, 2017
"I think it's incumbent upon players today if that's how the public is looking at it, is to stand and salute the flag,” Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said earlier Sunday, according to Salguero.
Vice President Mike Pence leaves the 49ers-Colts game
Pence issued a statement soon after he decided to leave the Colts’ home game against the 49ers:
President Trump tweeted that he asked Pence to leave:
The Colts linked arms, while some players for the 49ers knelt during the anthem:
I count 23 member of the #49ers kneeling for the playing of the national anthem as a protest of social inequality.— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoNBCS) October 8, 2017
After the game, 49ers safety Eric Reid said what Pence did was a “PR stunt.”
No Seahawks players sit this week
Last week, the Seahawks’ defensive line sat during the national anthem. This week, they opted not to:
The nine who sat last week, including Michael Bennett, stood this week with arms around each other.— Bob Condotta (@bcondotta) October 8, 2017
After the game, Frank Clark explained why:
Frank Clark said players who sat for anthem last week decided to stand to honor those killed in Las Vegas.— Bob Condotta (@bcondotta) October 9, 2017
Jerry Jones says players who “disrespect the flag” won’t play
Jerry Jones: "If there is anything disrespecting the flag, then we will not play. Period. We're going to respect the flag and I'm going to create the perception of it."— Brandon George (@DMN_George) October 9, 2017
The NFLPA stands behind players’ right to protest
The NFLPA’s statement, meant to respond to Pence, also ended up being a response to Jones too: