As the protests of Week 3 fade in the rear-view mirror and Week 4’s Sunday games draw ever closer, teams are having to decide whether to continue with unified protests begun in the wake of President Trump’s attack on the league last Friday.
The New Orleans Saints, in London for a game against the Miami Dolphins, have unveiled what they believe is a good compromise: the team will kneel together prior to the national anthem, then stand together for it.
As a way to show respect to all, our #Saints team will kneel in solidarity prior to the national anthem & stand together during the anthem.
— Drew Brees (@drewbrees) September 29, 2017
Ten Saints had taken a knee or remained seated prior to last week’s game in Charlotte against the Carolina Panthers. They are one of the few teams to announce their plans in advance for Sunday; previously, the Denver Broncos had indicated they will stand as a team for the anthem.
The original aim of the protests had been to bring attention to racial injustice and police brutality, but Trump’s comments knocked the entire protest movement off its axis. By characterizing the protesters, inaccurately, as protesting the national anthem itself, Trump incited a reaction that resulted in a protest against him … a protest against a protest of a protest, if you will. And now we’re at the point where “unity” is the goal, and the original motives of the protesters are buried.
The Saints haven’t yet played at home since the protests crested, but in Louisiana, strident anti-protest movements have swelled. According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has said he would prefer the protests take place at a different time, and lawmakers have sought everything from a mandatory demand for players to stand, to a removal of state funding from the team in retaliation for the protests.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.