Two Miami Dolphins players took a knee and another raised his fist during the national anthem before their preseason opener Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to the Miami Herald.
Receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson took a knee behind teammates standing along the sideline. Defensive end Robert Quinn stood and raised his right fist, as he did during the anthem last season with the Los Angeles Rams.
In May, team owners passed a policy requiring players to remain in the locker room or stand on the sideline during the National Anthem. The Associated Press reported last month that the Dolphins had a provision in their player conduct manual, and anybody who violated that policy could be fined or suspended.
However, the NFL has since put the policy on hold, and no new rules have been created or enforced since. The players’ union was not consulted before the owners passed the new policy, and there are discussions still in the works with the NFL Players Association.
Stills has been at the forefront of the Dolphins players protesting police brutality and racial inequality, and has knelt during the anthem for the majority of the team’s games over the last two seasons. He initially knelt with support from owner Stephen Ross, but Ross later stated that he wished his players would stand to honor the flag during the anthem, according to the Miami Herald.
According to the Miami Herald, Dolphins coach Adam Gase appeared annoyed earlier this week when asked if he’d give his players any instructions on what would happen if they kneel.
“I’m not instructing anybody for anything,” Gase said.
Other players that participated in different forms of protest include four Jackonville Jaguars – cornerback Jalen Ramsey, linebacker Telvin Smith, and running backs Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon – who decided to remind in the locker room during the anthem, according to USA Today. Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Michael Bennett entered the field as the anthem began to play but stood behind his teammates. Safety Malcolm Jenkins and cornerback De’Vante Bausby both raised a fist, USA Today reports.
Jenkins, one of the founders of the Players Coalition, wore a t-shirt during pregame warmups to spread awareness about the prison population. The t-shirt read “More than 60% of prison populations are people of color.”
He gave an explanation of his shirt on Twitter, stating: “Before we enjoy this game lets take some time to ponder that more than 60% of the prison population are people of color. The NFL is made up of 70% African Americans. What you witness on the field does not represent the reality of everyday America. We are the anomalies…”
Many people on Twitter are already talking about boycotting the NFL until they can “get the disrespect to stop,” with some claiming that the NFL was dead to them.
Daniel St. Pierre wrote: “Looks like my family & I will skip another
#NFL season after we witnessed our beloved #MiamiDolphins Kenny Stills, Robert Quinn & Albert Wilson protest during tonight’s national anthem, going as far as raising fists in support of the #BlackPower terrorist movement… #PureEvil”
Josh Hall wrote: “Shame on the disgusting display of disrespecting our national anthem by the Miami Dolphins’ Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson before tonight’s preseason game. If you want to protest your cause like a good social justice warrior, keep our flag out of it. Fines AND suspension, please!”
This is a developing story. Heavy will continue to update as more information is known.