Three Miami Dolphins were the first NFL players to protest social injustice during the national anthem this season.
Before the Dolphins faced the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, wide receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson knelt as defensive end Robert Quinn raised his fist. Stills told the New York Times earlier this week that he planned to continue carrying Colin Kaepernick’s torch, even though “the first two years of this protest have been really difficult with the negative backlash we’ve been receiving.”
The NFL’s national anthem policy is anything but certain, and the league is not expected to implement a new one this season. In June, the Dolphins were found to have opened up the possibility for a player to receive a four-game suspension if they protested during the anthem. That league soon put a halt to that policy, leaving the situation at a standstill.
No players kneeled, raised their fist, or stayed in the locker room during the season opener between the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night. (Eagles defensive end Michael Bennett did take a seat on the bench near the end of the song.) Even so, President Donald Trump weighed in on the protests after the ratings for the game were down from last year.
“If the players stood proudly for our Flag and Anthem, and it is all shown on broadcast, maybe ratings could come back?” Trump asked in a tweet.
Eric Reid, the former San Francisco 49ers safety who remains unsigned as he pursues a collusion case against the NFL, also took to Twitter to share his thoughts on the topic. He noted Stills and Wilson “have not backed down, even when attacked and intimidated.”
No players protested during the national anthem before the Patriots faced the Houston Texans.