Thursday night was the first Preseason game for many NFL teams and would serve to be the first chance to see if the players would challenge the league and kneel during the National Anthem. Miami Dolphins wide receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson did indeed kneel during the anthem before their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Buccaneers defensive end Robert Quinn raised his fist in the air during the anthem similar to what he did last season while with the Los Angeles Rams.
Quinn told reporters after the game “As a black man in this world, I’ve got an obligation to raise awareness. If no one wants to live in unity, that’s why we’re in the situation we’re in.”
Stills and Wilson did not plan their protest together.
Colin Kaepernick saluted Stills and Wilson on Twitter and advised them to stay strong.
Philadelphia Eagles Safety Malcolm Jenkins also raised his fist in the air before his game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Jenkins has been on the forefront of player protest during the anthem. Players including Jacksonville Jaguars Linebacker Telvin Smith, cornerback Jalen Ramsey, running backs Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon did not appear on the field for the anthem before their game. The same with Seattle Seahawks Defensive linemen Branden Jackson and Quinton Jefferson, and offensive lineman Duane Brown.
Baltimore Ravens second-year linebacker Tim Williams stood alone in front of the bench with his back toward the field.
Donald Trump went to Twitter to express his frustration with the players and the NFL.
The NFL released a statement on the preseason protests.
“The NFL has been engaged in constructive discussions with the NFL Players Association regarding the anthem and issues of equality and social justice that are of concern to many Americans,” the statement said. “While those discussions continue, the NFL has agreed to delay implementing or enforcing any club work rules that could result in players being disciplined for their conduct during the performance of the anthem.”
The statement went on to say that the league’s national anthem policy remained unchanged: it will continue to be played before each game, and all players and team staff on the field are expected to stand for the flag and the anthem. Those who choose not to stand must remain in the locker rooms.
“We remain committed to working with the players to identify solutions and to continue making progress on important social issues affecting our communities,” the statement concluded..