Will Seahawks and Dolphins disrespect National anthem and American flag on 911?
By Mario Murillo
SEATTLE — The Dolphins season opener will be full of drama before it even kicks off. The team held a players-only meeting Friday in which Arian Foster addressed a potential demonstration during the national anthem, and the Seahawks have already said they are planning something.
Protests began with San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick sitting on the bench during the anthem before a preseason game as his way of objecting to the oppression of black people and controversial handling of police violence. Kaepernick and teammate Eric Reid knelt for the anthem last week, and Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall did the same in the league’s kickoff Thursday.
Now these two teams are involved, which becomes additionally provocative given that they will play on 9/11. Seattle players publicly discussed a team-wide stance, though they declined to specify what it will be, and the Dolphins planned to figure out their position by Saturday night.
Foster held the team after practice at the University of Washington to stress the importance of the Dolphins being unified in whatever they choose to do.
“There’s a lot going on right now in the NFL and everybody has their different feelings and opinions, or different stands,” safety Reshad Jones said. “That’s basically what he told us: Make sure we’re together, and we’re here to win a football game.”
Jones and right guard Jermon Bushrod said the Dolphins are not aware of what the Seahawks will do and the teams are not working in conjunction with each other. “We’ll do our own deal,” Bushrod added. That may be the only certainty heading into Sunday.
Sunday marks 15 years since the 9/11 attacks, and the NFL has always honored that anniversary. Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin said his team would demonstrate regardless of the date, but thinks it will add even more substance to their actions.
“Even if it wasn’t September 11th, the point of the protest is to get people to think,”he told reporters. “It’s very ironic to me that 15 years ago, on September 11th, was one of the most devastating times in U.S. history, and after that day we were probably the most unified that we’ve ever been.
“And today you struggle to see the unity. It’s very ironic to me that this date is coming up. It’s going to be a very special day, a very significant day, but at the same time I’m looking forward to the many changes and differences that we can make in this country.”
“You’ve gotta respect the man’s opinion, as well as his actions,” Suh said two weeks ago. “I definitely understand where he’s coming from in choosing to do what he did.
“I think it’s an individual choice. At the same time, I think it’s a duty of ours as leaders, especially with young kids, to make a good, proper announcement if we feel the need to, and I think that’s what he’s doing. I support him in that.”
It’s a weighty issue for first-time head coach Adam Gase, who has consistently supported the players’ right to express themselves as they see fit and reiterated that he wouldn’t deter them. His comments run parallel to the NFL’s policy that players “are encouraged but not required” to stand for the anthem.
Gase and his staff gave the players space for their discussion Friday, and he probably won’t know what his team intends to do until they take the field.
“I just know everybody has the right to their opinion, and I know we’re here to beat Seattle,” he said. “It’s one of those things where everybody has a right to their opinion.”
Fans threaten boycott after Dolphins discuss anthem protest
“My family and friends won’t be going to games this year, and some won’t buy products advertised during games,” one commenter posted. Another threatened a similar boycott: “I’m protesting the disrespect for our country and boycotting the NFL until they make everyone stand. I’ll watch college football and baseball and hockey, period.”
Others took offense to the potential protest occuring on 9/11. “Protest the anthem especially on 9/11 and the Dolphins are dead to me,” one reader wrote. Another posted: “Truly disgusting what they are doing. … I’m sure our soldiers abroad will be horrified and disgusted at their unpatriotic behavior.”
Even longtime fans were offended: “If the Dolphins decide not to stand for the national anthem on 9/11 I will never attend another game in my life. And I’ve run bus trips for for 29 years.”
Protests began when San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat on the bench during the anthem before a preseason game in a protest against oppression of black people and controversial handling of police violence. It became a mini movement when Kaepernick and teammate Eric Reid knelt for the anthem last week, then Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall did the same in the league’s kickoff Thursday.
The Dolphins and the NFL did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
My view is that no matter how you spin it, the overwhelming majority of Americans will consider these acts of blatant disrespect done out of arrogance and hate. Moreover, to do it on 911 will make it look especially provocative and cruel. In their little world, some of these players believe they will deemed heroes. The shock will be the national national backlash and a colossal heap of shame. Many will call them overpaid—and in some cases, highly overrated—athletes with an outsized microphone, who want to throw a bone to the oppressed from their mansions and limos. They will be known as a new specie of classless, spoiled brat, low information posers.
IN A RELATED STORY:
Colin Kaepernick’s gesture to kneel for the national anthem was repeated by high school players in a number of places before games Friday night.
Kaepernick retweeted a number of posts on Twitter with photos or news stories.
Here is a sampling:
- At Lincoln Southeast in Nebraska, two players — one white, one African-American took a knee as a silent protest. (see the video above).
- At Waggener High in Louisville, a player took a knee as his teammates stood alongside him. A number of players had taken a knee as the team line up but eventually rose as the music starting playing. Coach Jordan Johnson said the team will take steps before next week’s game to “to ensure our young men can make a stand for social injustice, while at the same time not showing, what is perceived as, disrespect.” (Click here for more of Waggener’s response.)
- Many players at Maury High in Norfolk, Va., took a knee behind the end zone when the anthem was played. Others stood at attention as did the coaches. “Our school system has said, we’re of the belief, we let our guys do what they believe in,”Coach Chris Fraser told the Virginian Pilot. “And so we didn’t make an issue of it, and if they believe in a cause, that’s fine. I stand behind what they believe in, but I’m going to do what I believe in.”
- At Auburn High in Rockford, Ill., a number of players took a knee during the anthem while their teammates stood with their hands over their hearts.
- Players at Watkins Hills High in Montgomery, Md., also took a knee during the anthem, according to a photo provided to USA TODAY High School Sports.