For the second week in a row, only a handful NFL players refused to stand for the national anthem, raising the possibility that the political protest may fade on its own without league action.
Only five players — three Miami Dolphins, New York Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon and Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch — sat or took a knee for the national anthem in Week 11, following a week that saw just six players do so.
None of the players for the NFL’s two most activist teams — the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers — refused to stand this week for the national anthem, according to ESPN’s running tally.
Of course, one reason is that the 49ers had a bye week.
In Seattle, all of the Seahawks stood for the anthem before the Monday night in a nod to the team’s Salute to Service game honoring veterans. Last week, the Seahawks all stood as the Arizona Cardinals paid tribute to the military for Veterans Day.
The real test will come in Week 12, when the Seahawks square off Sunday against the 49ers in San Francisco in what could be described as the Take-a-Knee Bowl.
Lynch drew headlines for sitting Sunday during the national anthem, as he has done all season, but then standing for the Mexico national anthem before the game in Mexico City, prompting President Trump to call for suspending him if he does so again.
Marshawn Lynch of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders stands for the Mexican Anthem and sits down to boos for our National Anthem. Great disrespect! Next time NFL should suspend him for remainder of season. Attendance and ratings way down.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 20, 2017
Vernon has similarly taken a knee on a regular basis, as have the three Dolphins — wide receiver Kenny Stills, safety Michael Thomas and tight end Julius Thomas.
The number of protesters has fallen steadily since nearly 200 players took a knee Sept. 25 following criticism from the president, with the exception of Week 8, when about 40 Houston Texans refused to stand in a one-time show of protest against owner Bob McNair over his comment about “the inmates running the prison.”
Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters has for the last three weeks remained in the tunnel during the anthem after sitting during earlier games.
The take-a-knee protests began last season as a statement against the deaths of black men at the hands of police, expanding for some players to include racism and social injustice.
At the same time, the protests have been condemned as disrespectful to the military and the flag, spurring fan outrage and contributing to declining ratings.
So far the NFL has refused to change the rules to require the players to stand or remain off the field for the national anthem, although the commissioner, owners and players met last month to discuss social injustice.
“NFL executives and owners joined NFLPA executives and player leaders to review and discuss plans to utilize our platform to promote equality and effectuate positive change,” said the joint Oct. 17 statement. “We agreed that these are common issues and pledged to meet again to continue this work together.”
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