Dontari Poe and Grady Jarrett joined the ranks of NFL players protesting during the national anthem on Sunday, taking a knee prior to the Week 3 matchup between the Falcons and the Lions. Their teammates stood with locked arms in a show of solidarity.
Eight Lions players knelt during the anthem.
For players like Colin Kaepernick and his former 49ers teammate Eric Reid, and so many others who have joined the protest, the choice to kneel during the national anthem represents opposition to ongoing oppression of black Americans in the United States.
Players’ decisions to protest during the anthem has been met with mixed sentiments, from support for the cause to a “stick to sports” mentality. That was the gist of comments from President Donald Trump, who suggested that team owners should fire any “son of a bitch” who kneels.
Arthur Blank released a statement denouncing Trump’s perspective, and Steve Wyche reported that Blank would join the team on the field on Sunday for the anthem to show his support for his players.
“Creating division or demonizing viewpoints that are different than our own accomplishes nothing positive and undermines our collective ability to achieve the ideals of our democracy,” Blank’s statement read.
Kaepernick continued his protest all last season to demonstrate that the liberties and rights represented by the national anthem and the American flag should be enjoyed universally by all Americans.
"I'm going to continue to stand with the people that are being oppressed,” Kaepernick said. “To me, this is something that has to change. When there's significant change and I feel that flag represents what it's supposed to represent, and this country is representing people the way that it's supposed to, I'll stand."
Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the 49ers and remains unemployed. Many believe he is being blackballed due to his protest, even though he said he did not plan to continue kneeling this season.
After Brandon Marshall remained kneeling for the anthem prior to the Broncos’ Week 1 Thursday Night Football matchup last year against the Panthers, he emphasized that he was simply standing against oppression.
"I'm not against the military. I'm not against the police or America," Marshall said, according to Cameron Wolfe of the Denver Post. "I'm against social injustice."
These protests are likely to continue, as will the heated discussions surrounding them.