In the fourth week of the preseason, two other NFL players joined Colin Kaepernick in sitting out the playing of the “Star-Spangled Banner”: his 49ers teammate Eric Reid, and Seahawks CB Jeremy Lane. Lane said he will continue his protest into the regular season, but he may not be alone.
Receiver Doug Baldwin said after practice yesterday that he is considering joining Lane in sitting for the anthem on Sunday, when Seattle opens up its season at home against the Dolphins, but that he first wants “to make sure I get all of my ducks in a row before I do so.” What does that mean? Baldwin said it has been discussed in the locker room, and LB Bobby Wagner intimated that any protest would be made en masse.
While Wagner said he didn’t know if he would sit down during the anthem he said “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.”
Wagner said he couldn’t say exactly what the team might do, saying “whatever we decide to do will be a big surprise.”
It sounds like the Seahawks are being thoughtful about precisely how to express their call for attention to the racial inequality in America, without giving the disingenuous any potential distractions. Colin Kaepernick accomplished that last week, consulting with former Army Green Beret and Seahawks training camp invitee Nate Boyer before changing his manner of protest to a kneel—simultaneously respectful and symbolic.
Sunday’s games will have more than its typical share of Americana—it is the 15th anniversary of the September 11th attacks on New York and Washington. (We should note again that protesting the anthem has nothing to do with the military—nor did Sept. 11, really, at least not in the way most commemorations portray it as the day to remember “those who keep us safe.” The unnecessary wars that used Sept. 11 as a pretext are a different story, and we should remember those for what they are. Pat Tillman would’ve liked that.) Doug Baldwin says the added significance of the date magnifies the message rather than distracts from it.
“I think that anybody should be thinking about that,” Baldwin said. “Even if it wasn’t Sept. 11, the point of the protest is to get people to think.
“I think it’s very ironic that 15 years ago on Sept. 11 is one of the most devastating times in U.S. history, and after that day we were probably the most unified that we’ve ever been,” he continued. “And today you struggle to see the unity.”
September 11th aside, please remember that the most overt political statement made at NFL games this season will be the very playing of the anthem, and not the choice to refrain from standing.