Earlier this month, the NFL’s regular season officially began. In its first few weeks, numerous players have knelt during the National Anthem to protest issues that they believe the minority community is facing, such as systemic oppression and police brutality, sparking a massive amount of outrage from the fans themselves.
As a result of the controversy, several teams recently announced that they will resume standing during the National Anthem. The Denver Broncos, for instance, released a statement earlier this week informing their fans that they will “be standing together” during the anthem in future games.
Specifically, in a “Message From Our Players,” which they published online, the players stated, “our locker room is one diverse place, and that’s what makes it so special. It’s where thoughtful, intelligent leaders from all different races, religions, and backgrounds come together,” noting, “we may have different values and beliefs, but there’s one thing we all agree on: we’re a team and we stand together — no matter how divisive some comments and issues can be, nothing should ever get in the way of that. Starting Sunday, we’ll be standing together.”
Their decision to start standing was likely influenced by John Elway, the General Manager of the Broncos, who spoke out against mixing politics with football and urged players to move forward days before. “Hopefully as we go forward we can start concentrating on football a little bit more. Take politics out of football. But I think that last week was a good show of unity by the NFL and hopefully this week we can move forward,” reasoned Elway.
“I’m one that believes in standing for the national anthem [and the flag], and I’ve always believed that. I believe that this is the greatest country in the world,” he explained, noting, “I understand the players and the way they felt from the comments that were made earlier in the week. They felt that they had to go down and kneel and that’s up to them.”
In addition to the Broncos, it was recently revealed that the Pittsburgh Steelers will also resume standing during the protest. “I promise you one thing, this week we will all be standing out there for the national anthem. Trust me,” vowed Maurkice Pouncey, the Center for the Steelers, while speaking to reporters about the backlash that the team faced for standing in the stadium’s tunnel during the anthem.
“We respect our flag, and we respect our military and everything that is a part of it. I think this week we are going to show that. We are sorry for all of our fans who are upset about the things that went down, and I think we’ll come together and all of this will be out the window,” he added.
“As far as I know it’s 100 percent participation,” he continued, noting, “we love this country. It’s America. We know there are injustices in this world, but to me, personally, football is football and that’s what we need to approach it as.”
The New Orleans Saints have also backed down from kneeling during the anthem. According to Drew Brees, the Quarterback for the team, instead of kneeling during the national anthem, they will be kneeling before it starts and then standing when it begins. “As a way to show respect to all, our #Saints team will kneel in solidarity prior to the national anthem & stand together during the anthem,” explained Brees on Twitter.
As a way to show respect to all, our #Saints team will kneel in solidarity prior to the national anthem & stand together during the anthem.
— Drew Brees (@drewbrees) September 29, 2017
Hopefully, other teams follow their lead resume standing during the National Anthem. To ensure that this happens, conservatives must continue speaking out against those who decide to take a knee. With enough pressure, the players protesting during the anthem will be forced to stop or risk being fired.