NFL’s opening day: Reaction to Colin Kaepernick’s anthem protest

SANTA CLARA, CA - AUGUST 26: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers throws a pass against the Green Bay Packers in the first half of their preseason football game at Levi's Stadium on August 26, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

SANTA CLARA, CA - AUGUST 26: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers throws a pass against the Green Bay Packers in the first half of their preseason football game at Levi's Stadium on August 26, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

The NFL season is barely underway, but already the focus is being taken away from the field and directed at the sidelines.

Colin Kaepernick started protesting racist police practices and behavior by sitting during the national anthem ahead of preseason games, but as the regular season starts the stakes — and his protest’s visibility — are that much higher.

On the day when the country observed the 15th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, what was the reaction during the season-opening NFL games?

Miami Dolphins @ Seattle Seahawks

At least four Miami Dolphins declined to stand during the anthem Sunday ahead of their season opener against the Seattle Seahawks.

Jelani Jenkins, Arian Foster, Michael Thomas, and Kenny Stills knelt next to each other in a line which included their standing teammates. The Dolphins lost the game 10-12.

Model Kate Upton took umbrage with the protest, suggesting that it was “unacceptable” and that Americans should “support each other” on 9/11.

She later tweeted that she supported the players’ right to protest, just “not the time during the anthem and on 9/11”

San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs

Standing arm in arm with his teammates, Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters took a different take on the protest, raising a gloved fist, in a pose reminiscent of Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the medal stand at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Peters had previously spoken of his “100 percent” support of Kaepernick’s stance.

The Chiefs beat the Chargers 33-27.

New England Patriots @ Arizona Cardinals

Martellus Bennett and Devin McCourty of the New England Patriots both echoed Peters’ raised-fist protest ahead of their upset 23-21 win over the Cardinals in Arizona.


Kaepernick also retweeted a picture purporting to show several members of a high school team, Watkins Mill High School in Gaithersburg, MD, kneeling during the anthem.

The Twittersphere was divided between support and condemnation for the athlete.

“So much respect for Kaepernick and all the other athletes standing up for what they believe is right, regardless of what people will say,” one user tweeted.

Others noted the loaded date, saying that it was particularly “disrespectful” not to honor the anthem on 9/11.

Protest started preseason

Ahead of Sunday’s games, Kaepernick’s teammate Eric Reid and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane had shown their support with similar protests, as has NWSL’s Megan Rapinoe, who knelt in solidarity with Kaepernick before the Washington Spirit shut down her protest by altering the pre-game ceremony.

Also in preseason, Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall knelt during the national anthem before Thursday night’s 21-20 win over the Carolina Panthers, his actions costing him an endorsement deal with the Air Academy Federal Credit Union.

Outside of the nation’s sporting arenas, a Navy sailor posted a video of herself sitting during the national anthem at a Florida military base last week. She could face punishment after her post went viral.

Kaepernick himself continued his protest, which originated ahead of a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers when his team met the San Diego Chargers in pre-season in a subsequent preseason game, kneeling alongside Reid. He had previously sat out the anthem ahead of other preseason games, but during those occasions had not dressed.

The quarterback’s protest has evolved from remaining seated during the anthem to taking a knee in out of respect for the military.

He has vowed to continue to kneel during the anthem in the pre-game ceremonies of his team’s clashes this season. The 49ers host the LA Rams Monday.


  • No

    I believe all that particular ticipate in this action should have all their endorsement deals revoked. The only way to solve this embarrassment is for the teams to bench them and for companies not to endorse them and give them money. I believe there is conduct Clauses in football players contracts they should be used for this misconduct and fined accordingly

  • Loser

    What spiny ball-less greedy owners and general managers who take no action to bench these disrespectful players. Sit their asses on the sidelines. Kapernick and his other “oppressed” millionaire pro athletes should address their issues off the field and put their time and money their mouths are to help the “oppressed”. What a joke he is. He is a spoiled ignorant gloried athlete who has no substance, respect for the opportunities given him because of this great country.

    • Freedom Fighter

      Disrespectful. It was the 15th Annv. of 9/11. 400 policemen died …bravely trying to keep others safe on the most horrific day of American history. And they spit on them. They spit on their souls. They did it infront of our military that risk their lives daily for their freedoms. They need to be suspended for doing it during work. When they are off on their own time they can do what they want. But by doing it on such a sensitive day…shows that they were being extremely selfish. Can them !

  • confused

    Imagine the consequences of pulling this in North Korea-seriously a dude was executed for falling asleep in a meeting. Blatantly refusing to stand for your country’s national anthem. . .What do they want? A good rap about drugs, loose girls, and evil cops? Yup slavery was and is a disgrace. HOWEVER the slaves were freed, and these are MILLIONAIRES. WARS were fought by all colors in the USA for all colors freedom. So show some respect or quit playing and live the struggle of the middle class and working poor.

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