It's August, and that means preseason NFL action got underway Thursday. But all eyes are on the players before the ball is even snapped, and the resistance to Trump is picking up right where it left off last season.
Player demonstrations took place during the national anthem at several early NFL preseason games Thursday night.
In Philadelphia, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and cornerback De’Vante Bausby raised their fists during the anthem, and defensive end Chris Long placed his arm around Jenkins’ shoulder. Jenkins had stopped his demonstration last December.
Defensive end Michael Bennett walked out of the tunnel during the anthem and walked toward the bench while it played. It appeared all the Steelers stood.
“Everybody is waiting for what the league is going to do,” Jenkins said. “We won’t let it stop what we stand for. I was very encouraged last year with the direction and that obviously took a different turn.
“I think it’s important to utilize the platform as we can because for whatever reason, we have framed this demonstration in a negative light, and often players have to defend why we feel the need to fight for everyday Americans, and in actuality we’re doing the right thing.”
At Miami, Dolphins receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson and defensive end Robert Quinn protested during the anthem. Stills and Wilson kneeled behind teammates lined up standing along the sideline. Quinn stood and raised his right fist. There were no apparent protests by the Buccaneers.
“As a black man in this world, I’ve got an obligation to raise awareness,” Quinn said. “If no one wants to live in unity, that’s why we’re in the situation we’re in.”
Stills kneeled during the anthem during the 2016-17 seasons and has been vocal discussing social injustice issues that inspired the protest movement by NFL players.
Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, a leader of the movement, tweeted support for Stills and Wilson.
“My brother @kstills continued his protest of systemic oppression tonight by taking a knee,” the tweet said. “Albert Wilson joined him in protest. Stay strong brothers!”
And in Seattle, three Seahawks players ran into the team’s locker room prior to the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Defensive linemen Branden Jackson and Quinton Jefferson, and offensive lineman Duane Brown left the field following team introductions and before the start of the anthem. They returned to the sideline immediately after it concluded. All three were among a group of Seattle players that sat during the anthem last season.
Needless to say, Tang the Conqueror isn't a happy camper.
Trump is openly delivering ultimatums for the players at this point, he will not be defied except by, well, the player defying him. Expect the NFL owners to cave very quickly here, and the players to take a knee anyway.