National anthem demonstrations became the story at NFL stadiums around the country on Sunday. But at Texans-Patriots in Foxboro, Mass., at Dolphins-Jets in East Rutherford, N.J., and at Raiders-Washington in Landover, Md.,* the players who protested were met with jeers and boos from thousands of fans who briefly drowned out the sounds of the anthem itself. How respectful.
I bought a ticket for Dolphins-Jets, and not because I was that bored on a gorgeous early autumn Sunday. I wanted to see what the players would do during the anthem in light of our drunk-uncle president’s blustery threats and insults, and how those demonstrations might be received up in the stands.
I recorded the video below from Section 124, Row 36, Seat 5, at the Meadowlands, just as the Brooklyn Youth Chorus began to sing the anthem. On the right sideline, the Jets’ players and coaches stood in a single line and locked arms, with interim owner Christopher Johnson standing among them. On the left sideline, the Dolphins also stood in locked-armed unison, with the exceptions of left tackle Laremy Tunsil, safety Maurice Smith, tight end Julius Thomas, running back Jay Ajayi, and wide receiver Kenny Stills, who locked arms and took to one knee. Wideout Jarvis Landry stood between them.
In the video, if you look closely, you can see the Dolphins players kneeling around the 25-yard line. Soon after the anthem began, at the 11-second mark, it became impossible to hear the song for several seconds because of the boos and shouts that came raining down. It’s difficult to make out in the video, but at least one fan in the 200 level on the right side gave a theatrical thumbs-down, and “Stand up!” could be heard among the many individual screams.
It’s not in the video, but a man and a woman seated directly to my right stayed seated for the anthem. No one said a word to them or bothered them in any way. The man told me he was dismayed at how Trump could “say whatever he wants,” but that the players were expected to stay in their lane, as if they have no agency or rights to free expression.
Up in Foxboro, where several Patriots players took a knee, the Associated Press got video of the crowd booing as the anthem began:
Update (2:50 p.m. ET): Here are the anthem boos and shouts from the Raiders-Washington game:
Showing respect for the anthem and the flag can take many acceptable forms, according to those True Americans who booed. Silently kneeling to draw attention to a lack of basic human rights under that flag apparently isn’t one of them.
* The boos from Raiders-Washington were added after this post was originally published.