For the final game of Sunday’s slate of NFL matchups, rife with protests, the Oakland Raiders’ offensive line has a protest of its own planned.
The entire line is expected to sit or kneel during the playing of the “Star Spangled Banner.” Prior to Sunday night's game, reports surfaced that the linemen would be doing so.
SB Nation can confirm that the Raiders discussed what type of protest they would enact following President Donald Trump’s rants about the league on Friday after a campaign rally in Alabama.
The significance of their protest shouldn’t be lost in the wave of dissent seen during Sunday’s games. The Raiders’ entire line is black, something that’s often an anomaly in the NFL, even for a league that’s predominately black.
Members of the line have commented on the situation via social media. Kelechi Osemele, a starting tackle on the team, tweeted yesterday after Trump’s comments, alluding to a dislike of the change in the Executive Branch.
Back in the day when it used to mean something ♂️ pic.twitter.com/ZiM27G4rvd— Kelechi Osemele (@KOseven0) September 23, 2017
The team also hasn’t shied away from conversations about protest and dissent. This season, Marshawn Lynch has sat on a water cooler or a bench while the anthem has played for every game, though he’s never explicitly said he was protesting.
Quarterback Derek Carr and Khalil Mack offered a “display of unity” earlier in the season, though they’ve claimed it’s not a protest. The two were seen in August with their hands on each other’s shoulders.
Raiders owner Mark Davis, who has wavered on his comments about protest in the past, corrected the record to ESPN's Paul Gutierrez:
About a year ago, before our Tennessee game, I met with Derek Carr and Khalil Mack to ask their permission to have Tommie Smith light the torch for my father before the game in Mexico City. I explained to them that I was asking their permission because I had previously told them that I would prefer that they not protest while in the Raiders uniform. And should they have something to say, once their uniform was off, I might go up there with them. Over the last year, though, the streets have gotten hot and there has been a lot of static in the air and recently, fuel has been added to the fire. I can no longer ask our team to not say something while they are in a Raider uniform. The only thing I can ask them to do is do it with class. Do it with pride. Not only do we have to tell people there is something wrong, we have to come up with answers. That’s the challenge in front of us as Americans and human beings.
Yesterday, Marquette King, the league’s only black punter, went and posed in front of the White House supporting Stephen Curry after the President rescinded the champion’s invitation to the White House.
All of this is showing there’s a place for the linemen's protests on this Raiders team. Donald Penn, Osemele, Rodney Hudson, Gabe Jackson, and Marshall Newhouse are using their platform to take a stand against police brutality and racial injustice, something many on the team have discussed for months in private meetings and in the locker room.
They will cap off what's been a historic day for black players in the league, taking another step forward in putting pressure on the NFL and the public to answer their pleas.