The four Miami Dolphins who took a knee during the playing of the national anthem on Sunday afternoon may be taking the most heat for their actions, but they were not alone.
A number of NFL players joined Miami’s Arian Foster, Michael Thomas, Jelani Jenkins and Kenny Stills in a silent protest during the playing of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ on the opening Sunday of the 2016 season.
That Sunday’s games fell on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks seemed to heighten the attention on those protests which started with San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick being spotted sitting on the bench before a preseason game against the Packers last month.
Kaepernick told former Miami Herald reporter Steve Wyche after that game “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Model Kate Upton posted on her Instagram account that what the Dolphins — and others, one would assume — did during the national anthem was “a disgrace.”
And Upton wasn’t the only one hitting up social media to chastise the Miami players.
“Sitting or kneeling down during the national anthem is a disgrace to those people who have served and currently serve our country,” Upton wrote. “Sitting down during the national anthem on September 11th is even more horrific. Protest all you want and use social media all you want.
“However, during the nearly two minutes when that song is playing, I believe everyone should put their hands on their heart and be proud of our country for we are all truly blessed.”
Owner Stephen Ross said he supports his players and didn’t think their actions “was any lack of respect.”
“I think everybody here, our team and our whole organization respects the flag and what it stands for and the soldiers and everything,” Ross told reporters in Seattle.
“But these guys are making a conversation about something that’s very important a subject that’s very important in this country and I’m 100 percent supportive of them.”
Playing in one of the early games Sunday, Kansas City cornerback Marcus Peters raised his right fist in the air. The Chiefs were lined up and linked arm in arm; Peters was at the end of the line, allowing his right arm to be free.
His display was reminiscent of the “Black Power” pose on the medal stand by John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the 1968 Olympics.
Carlos told the Kansas City Star in a phone interview that he noticed the black glove.
“It’s not about white and black or rich and poor,” Carlos said. “It’s about right and wrong.”
Said coach Andy Reid: “He just wants what is right, like we all do. … What the players are doing right now is important. Let’s just all get along, and that would be a beautiful thing.”
In the late game, New England’s Martellus Bennett and Devin McCourty both held up their right arms..
On Thursday’s season opener, Denver linebacker Brandon Marshall, who was a teammate of Kaepernick’s at Nevada, took a knee during the anthem and was dropped as a spokesman for Air Academy Federal Credit Union the following morning.