A raised fist, more kneeling players as
NFL anthem protest spreads
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[September 12, 2016]
By Curtis Skinner
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Kansas City
Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters raised his fist and several Miami
Dolphins players knelt during performances of the U.S. national anthem
on Sunday, the latest gestures in the National Football League to draw
attention to racial inequality.
San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick started a
controversy when he began the protests against injustice and police
brutality by refusing to stand for "The Star-Spangled Banner" during
Other members of the Chiefs linked arms during the anthem, as did the
Seattle Seahawks at their game in Miami, although the exact meaning of
their gestures was not immediately clear.
Sunday's games fell on the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on
the United States and many NFL teams commemorated the tragedy with
Four Miami Dolphins players - Arian Foster, Jelani Jenkins, Michael
Thomas, and Kenny Stills - knelt while the national anthem was played at
their season opener against the Seahawks. On the other side of the
field, the Seahawks locked arms while standing during the song.
Photos published online by Sports Illustrated showed Tennessee Titans
players Jurrell Casey, Wesley Woodyard and Jason McCourty raising their
fists ahead of their game against the Minnesota Vikings as well. It was
not not clear whether the images were taken before, during or after the
Representatives for the teams could not be immediately reached.
The gesture on Sunday by Peters, 23, who is African-American, recalled
the raised fist demonstration by black athletes Tommie Smith and John
Carlos during their medal ceremony at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico
The other Chiefs players they decided to lock arms as a sign of
solidarity after discussing the issue as a group.
"It was our goal to be unified as a team and to be respectful of
everyone's opinions, and the remembrance of 9/11," the team said in a
statement. "It's our job as professional athletes to make a positive
impact on our communities and to be proactive when change is needed."
Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin, in a video he posted online
announcing his team's decision to link arms, said, "Progress can and
will be made only if we stand together."
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Players stand for the national anthem before the game between the
Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers in the first half at
Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
In Thursday's NFL season opener, Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon
Marshall had knelt during the anthem.
The protesting players have been seen as allies of the Black Lives
Matter movement, which grew in response to a string of high-profile
police killings of unarmed black people across the country. About
two-thirds of NFL players are black.
The protests also have provoked anger in some fans who see the
gesture as disrespecting the U.S. flag, the military and the nation
To mark the 15th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, the
league said it would play videotaped messages from President Barack
Obama and his predecessor, George W. Bush, before each game, and a
9/11 decal was to be placed on players' helmets.
Kaepernick's 49ers play their opening game against the Los Angeles
Rams on Monday evening. Obama has said Kaepernick was exercising a
constitutional right and provoking conversation "around some topics
that need to be talked about."
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York and Curtis Skinner in San
Francisco; Editing by Peter Cooney and Bill Trott)
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