A simple act of non-violent protest has awakened a sleeping giant of athletic social justice activism among NFL players. When San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the playing of the national anthem last month, he set off a firestorm of controversy. Kaepernick stated, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” This led some NFL fans to burn their Kaepernick jersey and post negative images on social media along with virulent racist comments.
However, many agreed with Kaepernick’s actions and now the Seattle Seahawks are apparently considering a team protest also at their next game. A number of Seahawks players have stated that the team had been discussing their options, and suggested they might be prepared to take a team-wide stand before the game against the Miami Dolphins this weekend. Linebacker Bobby Wagner 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 … Whatever we decide to do will be a big surprise.”
If the team decides to make a protest, it will occur on the 15th anniversary of the 2001 9/11 attacks that changed the course of American politics and culture. Seattle Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin stated, “I think that anybody should be thinking about that. Even if it wasn’t [9/11], the point of the protest is to get people to think. I think it’s ironic that 15 years ago is one of the most devastating times in US history, and after that day we were probably the most unified that we’ve ever been. And today you struggle to see the unity.”