Here’s what protests at Sunday’s NFL games look like after Goodell’s letter asking players to stand
The NFL will have its first full day of games Sunday following NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s letter asking players to stand during the national anthem.
That letter, which was obtained by ESPN on Wednesday, encouraged players from all 32 teams to refrain from protesting in order to “honor our flag and our country.”
“Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the national anthem,” Goodell wrote, according to ESPN. “It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us.”
The letter was sent days after Vice President Mike Pence sparked headlines for leaving an Indianapolis Colts game because some players did not stand for the anthem. Pence’s stunt followed weeks of NFL players visibly protesting during the national anthem.
Though Trump praised Goodell for his response, the memo, NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart clarified, is not a mandate forcing players to stand. Rather, Lockhart explained that Goodell is expected to present team owners with a plan to “use [the NFL’s] platform to both raise awareness and make progress on issues of social justice and equality in this country.”
Gerald McCoy, a defensive tackle for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, warned what might happen if players were forced to stand.
“I don’t think guys are gonna like it,” McCoy told ESPN. “I think it’s gonna be an uproar if that is to happen because you’re basically taking away a constitutional right to freedom of speech. If guys wanna have a — I guess you would call it a peaceful protest — I don’t think it’s right to take that away.”
Mic will be tracking what protests look like throughout the day, updating in real time.
Chicago Bears vs. Baltimore Ravens
All players from the Ravens stood, according to PressBox reporter Bo Smolka, and there was no pre-anthem kneeling as there had been in previous weeks.
Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings
No Packers or Vikings players kneeled during the anthem, although the Packers players did lock arms as they have previously.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Washington Redskins
Seven 49ers players kneeled during the anthem, USA Today journalist Mike Jones reported, while all Redskins players stood. More than 20 of the 49ers players knelt the week prior, according to ESPN. Though seven Redskins players have stood in recent weeks, 7 players have previously kneeled.
Detroit Lions vs. New Orleans Saints
All players stood during the anthem, making this the second week that no Lions players have stood during the anthem, according to Kyle Meinke. The Lions linked arms in solidarity, while Saints players kneeled as a team during a moment of silence before the anthem and then stood as the anthem played. The Saints have done a pre-anthem kneel in recent weeks, after 10 players previously sat during the anthem.
Miami Dolphins vs. Atlanta Falcons
Most of the Falcons players locked arms during the anthem, with the exception of 10 players who stood alone with their hands on their hearts, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Three Dolphins players — Julius Thomas, Michael Thomas and Kenny Stills — stayed in the locker room during the anthem and came on the field after it had ended, after previously kneeling.
Cleveland Browns vs. Houston Texans
All Browns players stood during the anthem and three players linked arms, Akron Beacon Journal journalist Nate Ulrich reported. Browns players have all stood in previous weeks, although a larger number had linked arms and several players previously raised their fist.
New England Patriots vs. New York Jets
Both teams stood for the anthem, with no players kneeling. The New York Jets locked arms as a team, while the Patriots put their hands on each other’s shoulders, which both teams had done in previous weeks.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Arizona Cardinals
According to Sports Illustrated, all players for both teams were standing for the national anthem.
Los Angeles Rams vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Sports Illustrated reported that all players for both teams were standing for the national anthem.
Los Angeles Chargers vs. Oakland Raiders
According to Sports Illustrated, all players for the raiders stood for the national anthem with the exception of running back Marshawn Lynch, who sat it out.
Sports Illustrated noted that Chargers’ offensive tackle Russell Okung raised his fist as the Star-Spangled Banner played.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
According to Sports Illustrated, all players for the Steelers stood for the anthem. KCTV reporter Tom Martin noted that Chiefs linebacker Ukeme Eligwe sat out the Star-Spangled Banner, whereas cornerback Marcus Peters kneeled and outside linebacker Justin Houston stood behind the bench.
New York Giants vs. Denver Broncos
Will be updated.
Oct. 15, 2017 4:48 p.m.: This story has been updated.