Several NFL players have joined Colin Kaepernick in protesting about racial inequality on the NFL’s opening weekend, which also marked the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem at the start of each game in pre-season has divided opinion.
While many have backed Colin Kaepernick, others say he is disrespecting the American flag.
However, several players raised fists or knelt to support Colin Kaepernick’s aim to highlight oppression of black people.
Four Miami Dolphins players – Arian Foster, Jelani Jenkins, Michael Thomas, and Kenny Stills – knelt as the Star Spangled Banner played. Their opponents, the Seattle Seahawks, locked arms as they stood.
Kansas City Chiefs players also locked arms to show unity while the player at the end of their line, Marcus Peters, raised a black-gloved fist – a gesture reminiscent of US sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos as they stood on the podium following their 200m final at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City.
“It was our goal to be unified as a team and to be respectful of everyone’s opinions, and the remembrance of 9/11.
“It’s our job as professional athletes to make a positive impact on our communities and to be proactive when change is needed,” a statement from the Chiefs players after the game said.
Miami Dolphins player Jelani Jenkins said: “I chose to get involved to see if I could create change, raise awareness.
“I want to make it clear that there is no disrespect to the military or to police officers – I’m not about that.
“I would like to keep moving forward in the right direction with everybody: equal rights, equal opportunity. From my position, it doesn’t seem that it’s happening. That’s why I took a stand.”
Seattle Seahawks players and staff had been in talks before their game to discuss how best to show support, and wide receiver Doug Baldwin said they wanted to meet with the mayor of Seattle and local law enforcement.
“We know that there has to be change and progress, but you got to apply direction to change,” he said.
In the late game, New England Patriots’ Martellus Bennett and Devin McCourty both held up their right arms, while team-mate Danny Amendola was seen to grab the unfurled American flag on the field during the anthem.
In September 8 season-opener between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers, Denver linebacker Brandon Marshall knelt during the national anthem.
Colin Kaepernick’s team plays the Los Angeles Rams on September 12.
President Barack Obama has defended San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who refused to stand for the national anthem.
He said Colin Kaepernick was exercising his constitutional right to make a point.
Speaking in China at the G20 meeting, Barack Obama said the NFL player had raised legitimate issues.
Colin Kaepernick stirred controversy when he sat during the national anthem to protest against racial injustice.
Some players have followed his example and sat or kneeled through the anthem.
Asked about the issue during a news conference at the G20 in Hangzhou, Barack Obama said it was tough for those in the military to understand why Colin Kaepernick might snub the national anthem.
However, President Obama said he did not doubt his sincerity to raise issues: “If nothing else, what he’s done is he’s generated more conversation around some topics that need to be talked about.”
The president added he would rather have young people engaged in the argument in a democratic process than “people who are just sitting on the sidelines and not paying attention at all”.
A week after staying seated during The Star-Spangled Banner, Colin Kaepernick quarterback kneeled during the anthem before a match on September 1.
Team-mate Eric Reid also kneeled, but they were booed by some in the crowd.
On September 4, US women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe knelt during the national anthem before the Seattle Reign’s game against the Chicago Red Stars in what she said was “a little nod”‘ to Colin Kaepernick.
Colin Kaepernick has said he will continue to sit out the national anthem until he sees improvements in US race relations.