Several NFL players protested or showed disrespect during the playing of the national anthem prior to the start of exhibition games Thursday night. The Huffington Post's Carla Herrera reported that they violated the league's policy banning "peaceful protest" without referencing the fact that the NFL froze the policy three weeks ago and began negotiating a new policy with the NFL Players Association.
The world champion Philadelphia Eagles were among the most active of the protesters. Safety Malcolm Jenkins and cornerback De'Vante Bausby raised their fists, and Chris Long put his arm on Jenkins' shoulder. Defensive end Michael Bennett casually walked out of the tunnel as the anthem was playing, in disrespect. Jalen Ramsey, Telvin Smith, Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon of the Jacksonville Jaguars remained in the locker room prior to their game against New Orleans.
Miami wide receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson kneeled during the playing of the The Star-Spangled Banner prior to a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Teammate Robert Quinn raised his fist in defiance. The 49ers' wide receiver Marquise Goodwin raised his fist before a game against Dallas. In Seattle, the Seahawks' Branden Jackson, Quinton Jefferson and Duane Brown ran into the tunnel prior to the playing of the anthem, then returned to the field.
Colin Kaepernick quickly tweeted support for his "brothers" Stills and Wilson:
With no policy opposing disrespect in place, the protesters won't face any disciplinary action. However Herrera appeared to have missed the message three weeks ago when the NFL announced it had reached a "standstill agreement" with the players' union on that May policy banning protests:
"Goodell announced the new anthem policy ― which requires players to stand and show respect for the flag and anthem ― in response to the growing number of NFL players who were joining Kaepernick’s movement to spread awareness about racial injustice, sparking controversy nationwide.
"According to the new policy, players who do not participate in the anthem are allowed to remain in the locker room during the anthem. Those who violate the policy could be fined by the league."
Herrera also reported that Jenkins and Bausby "showed resistance to the ban before their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers ... " She continued that many "vowed to risk the fine and continue protesting, despite the policy.'' Herrera acknowledged that the NFL players’ union filed a grievance against the NFL policy in July, but never alluded to the policy being placed on hold.