The Seattle Seahawks announced Thursday that the entire team will join Colin Kaepernick’s silent protest against the U.S. national anthem in their home opener Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.
Football players said they had been discussing their options and decided that the team should take a stand as a unit, to protest racism, racial injustice and police brutality in the United States. The team did not specify exactly how they would protest, or if they would sit, or kneel, but made clear their intentions nonetheless.
“Anything we want to do, it’s not going to be individual. It’s going to be a team thing. That’s what the world needs to see. The world needs to see people coming together versus being individuals,” linebacker Bobby Wagner told the Seattle Times.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Kaepernick ignited a nationwide debate about what patriotism, if any, is owed to a flag that represents a nation founded on slavery, and in the throes of what amounts to state-sanctioned terror against people of color, much of it captured on cell phone cameras. Seattle Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane followed Kaepernick's example, and so have a host of other athletes, including Seattle Reign soccer star Megan Rapinoe.
For its part the NFL has said that players are encouraged, but not required to stand during the national anthem. The protests have deepened an already-yawning racial divide in the U.S. as both white and Black people have expressed their displeasure with the demonstrations on social media. Some NFL fans even burned Kaepernick's jersey.
The Seahawks, which won the Super Bowl in 2013, is one of the most outspoken and political teams in the NFL, with several Black players discussing a wide range of progressive ideas with reporters, from the Black Lives Matter movement to the privilege enjoyed by white players.