Only a handful take action during anthem on NFL’s 1st Sunday

DENVER (AP) – Last season, the Seattle Seahawks led the league when it came to the number of players willing to make a statement while playing the national anthem.

To start this season, that wave of Seahawks has diminished just two players.

Linemen Duane Brown and Quinton Jefferson left the field and waited in the tunnel while unfolding a US flag the size of a field and playing the national anthem before the season opener on Sunday in Denver.

The league where more than 200 players took some kind of action to protest against police brutality and social injustice in the United States during the anthem, The Associated Press counted less than 10 in the entire league that did so at the opening of the NFL on Sunday. Only two of them, Albert Wilson and Kenny Stills of the Dolphins, knelt while playing the "Star-Spangled Banner."

Nothing that bothered Brown much. He says he is committed to what he is doing.

"I made my decision," he said. "That was my decision, I was not paying attention to what other teams or other players are doing."

The lower numbers may reflect a new strategy that many players are adopting to draw attention to the problems that Colin Kaepernick posed when he began kneeling for the anthem in 2016. The then San Francisco 49ers quarterback was looking to throw light on the problems that affect African-American communities.

Since then, a group of NFL players has formed the Players Coalition. They want to keep the focus of the anthem, which has become a lightning rod, partly due to the continued criticism of President Donald Trump to players who do not stand up during the anthem.

"We're trying to get past the rhetoric of what's right or wrong in terms of the anthem, and really focus on the systematic problems that are plaguing our communities," said Malcolm Jenkins of The Eagles, one of the co-founders. of the group, which no longer protests during the anthem. .

And yet, if Kaepernick is on board with all that, it was not clear on Sunday. He took twitter to praise Wilson and Stiles.

"My brothers (Stills) and (Wilson) continue to show their unwavering strength in fighting for the oppressed," Kaepernick said in his tweet. "They have not backed down, even when they were attacked and intimidated … Love is at the root of our resistance."

Kaepernick's message reached his friends in Miami.

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