In Week 3, almost 200 players on different NFL games decided to kneel during the national anthem, but the same number dropped dramatically on this past Sunday. The stats from ESPN.com show that only 52 players decided to protest the issue of racial injustice. The protest in Week 3 began only days after the US president Donald Trump said at his rally in Alabama that the NFL should fire players who are protesting. Trump also used an insulting term for the same players, which brought about a response from 32 teams in the NFL, making it the largest league-based protest so far. But, only 10 days later, the majority of these teams decided to stop their protests.
At the same time, teams like the Ravens and the Saints knelt before the anthem, but then stood up once it started playing. Martha Ford, the owner of the Lions said in Detroit that she would support social issues using her funds if they decided not to kneel during the playing of the anthem. With owners like Ford finding ways to encourage the players to stand, the protesting number took a big hit with the start of Week 4. Now, the 52 players came from only 7 NFL teams. 30 of them are playing for the 49ers, 9 are in the Seahawks, 6 from the Bills, 3 from the Dolphins and 2 from the Lions. In the Giants and Raiders teams, there was one player each who knelt during the anthem.
The 49ers, who were the biggest protesting group in Week 4, knelt during the anthem played in Arizona. NFLPA’s executive director DeMaurice Smith was most likely not surprised by this decision. He accused the owners of NFL teams of using the same protests a means of bargaining with their players. In his view, this ended up being the issue of buying a player’s in the protest. This, in turn, paints the protests as only a means of getting something from the owners and this is clearly untrue according to Smith. During a meeting of NFL owners, Jerry Jones wanted, according to the reports, to find a way to stop the protest and at the same time further the social causes the players worry about.
He stated that the root of the issue should try to be addressed and not simply by kneeling. He believes that the fans do not want to see the NFL games being politicized and that there has to be another way to do something in this regard. Of course, the divisiveness of the issue was demonstrated on Sunday for the Ravens, who knelt before the anthem and stood up for it. In Baltimore, they still ended up being booed by their own fans.
At the same time, in the Raiders, Marshawn Lynch, a running back decided to protest alone. There were no boos because no one could actually see him on the field. The same player is not quick to give out statements or talk to the media but he did choose to send a message during that game. He silently sent it when he came to Denver by carrying a shirt with the text “Everybody vs. Trump”. This message left few, if any, trying to figure out its meaning.