As expected, the Seahawks did something other than all stand during the national anthem before their first game of 2018.
Left tackle Duane Brown, a vocal critic of the NFL regulating players’ rights to protest, joined defensive linemen Branden Jackson and Quinton Jefferson in leaving the CenturyLink Field playing area just before the anthem was played for Thursday’s preseason opener against Indianapolis. Brown, Jackson and Jefferson went into the tunnel leading to the team’s locker room, the returned when the anthem was over.
The rest of their teammates stood on the sidelines during it.
Brown and Jefferson said after Seattle’s 19-17 loss to the Colts they will continue to go into their locker room during the anthem before Seahawks games all season.
Brown said he’s progressed from acting to raise awareness of social injustice in our society to doing it now to show “solidarity” with those who are still suffering in our society.
With the league rescinding its misguided attempt in May at forcing an anthem policy on its players for this season, the Seahawks have been discussing what to do before games this year.
Doug Baldwin did not play Thursday; he is out indefinitely with a left-knee injury. Yet the Seahawks’ top wide receiver and activist for social causes such as police reform over the past year still made a statement on the field, before the game.
In May, NFL team owners re-ignited a national controversy that raged throughout the 2017 season when they voted for a new league anthem policy. It states “all team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.” It gives players the option to stay off the field during the anthem—and commissioner Roger Goodell the power to “impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the Anthem.”
“It’s more of a PR move, to me, than anything,” Baldwin said then of the anthem plus other NFL policies and initiatives off the field. “They aren’t trying to get to the gist of it.
“I don’t think they ever did care about the initiatives, what the players care about. It’s just about their bottom line.”
Baldwin said in May of the new anthem policy: “I’m not surprised. The NFL cares about one thing and that’s the NFL. That’s the bottom line.
“I’m not surprised, I’m disappointed.”
On the same day in June President Trump revoked his invitation of the Philadelphia Eagles to the White House to commemorate their Super Bowl victory, Seahawks left tackle Duane Brown, who has protested during the anthem the last two seasons, said the issue remained subject of locker-room talk among players in Seattle throughout the offseason.
Brown added of Seahawks and the anthem policy, “there are a lot of guys unhappy about it.”
Last month, the league suspended its ill-devised and unilaterally-decided policy. The NFL and its players’ union are now attempting to create a new, collaborative solution to the issue. They are seeking clear rules on what players can and cannot do on the field during the anthem, and agreed-upon punishment for breaking them.
Seahawks players have been in the center of this controversy for more than a year.
This time last summer, just before the Seahawks’ first preseason game of 2017, Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett began his season-long sitting during the anthem, before Seattle’s exhibition game at the Los Angeles Chargers. Bennett began his statement days after a man drove a car into a group of people counter-protesting a racially motivated rally by whites in Charlottesville, Virginia. Bennett, the son of a U.S Navy enlisted man, said his aim was to take Americans “out of their comfort zone” about how race relations are in our country.
The Seahawks traded him to Philadelphia this offseason.
Throughout last season, Bennett, Baldwin and the Seahawks remained at the center of the national uproar over NFL players not standing for the anthem. In late September before a regular season game in Nashville, Tenn., the Seahawks and Titans stayed off the field while a United States Marine Corps color guard presented the U.S. flag on it.
Bennett called that act that day by the Seahawks “revolutionary.”