Players should stand during the national anthem or “maybe they shouldn’t be in the country,” President Donald Trump said Thursday morning.
That full quote, aired on FOX & Friends, is here:
“You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there, maybe they shouldn’t be in the country,” Trump said on television.
Only a mere few hours later, there was Denver Broncos linebacker and social activist, Brandon Marshall — who famously kneeled multiple times in solidarity with former college teammate Colin Kaepernick in social protest — to give his views on the President’s remarks, Thursday afternoon.
“Obviously that statement right there to me is—I’ll say it, to me, it’s disgusting,” Marshall said to the media at Dove Valley Thursday. “I say disgusting because of our First Amendment rights. We have freedom of speech, right? Freedom to protest? So because somebody decides to protest something, now we have to be kicked out of the country.
“That is absurd in my opinion,” Marshall finished his first response.
On Wednesday, the NFL’s owners voted unanimously to create a new rule surrounding the anthem: Players must stand for the anthem or a team will be assessed a 15-yard penalty. Players who do not want to stand for the anthem can stay in the locker room while it’s being played.
Unfortunately for the NFL, who wanted this anthem kneeling, protesting and the focus to be shifted back to the game, with this rule, all they’ve done is put a new hyper-focus on the anthem and which players kneel/stay in the locker room.
“I don’t like it, but I understand it,” Marshall said of the new policy. “I understand what they’re trying to protect. They’re trying to protect the (NFL) shield. The reason that we did this in the first place was to bring awareness to police brutality. That is the reason why we took a knee. That was just a symbol. That was the symbol of what was going on taking a knee. Just like the flag is a symbol.”
And, while so much has been made of Marshall, Kaepernick and a few other players kneeling during the national anthem, the Broncos starting linebacker had a point to make on that, too. Namely, that players haven’t been forced to be on the sidelines for the anthem for very long.
“Before, both teams used stay in the locker room, right? Like 2009 or something like that?” Marshall said to the media. “For the longest, we’ve been viewed as being on the field. You watch the games, the camera goes along the sidelines, you see everybody standing up. Instead of seeing 53 players with some coaches standing, you [could] see about 30. I don’t know. It may leave a bad taste in some peoples’ mouths.”
Marshall’s right; players weren’t mandated to stand on the sideline for the national anthem until 2009, making it a relatively new tradition. Now, the tradition may be half a team on the sideline during that anthem, as Marshall mentioned.
Although, it can’t be forgotten that the NFL is all about “team-first.” It seems unlikely that coaches and/or front offices would support half of their team staying in the locker room every Sunday.