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In Empty NFL Stadiums, Teams Take Their Stand

Some teams don't even appear for the national anthem
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 13, 2020 3:00 PM CDT
Updated Sep 13, 2020 3:30 PM CDT

(Newser) – Seattle's Jason Myers kicked the ball through the end zone to open Seattle's season at Atlanta. No one else on the field moved. Instead, the Seahawks and Falcons dropped to one knee where they had stood. After years of pleading with their league to act against systemic racism, NFL players were prepared to wait another 10 seconds to make their point, the AP reports. Teams opening their seasons in empty stadiums on Sunday knelt, locked arms, raised fists in protest, or stayed off the field entirely for the "Star-Spangled Banner" and the Black anthem "Lift Every Voice and Sing" as the once-reluctant league brought racial injustice to the forefront on the NFL's first full slate of games. For more:

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  • In Atlanta, the teams wore armbands honoring civil rights leader John Lewis and staged the most striking of the day's gestures: They watched the opening kickoff sail through the end zone for a touchback, dropped to one knee, and remained there for about 10 seconds before trotting off the field to resume the game.
  • While fans were absent everywhere except Jacksonville because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Minnesota Vikings hosted the family of George Floyd, who died in May in a videotaped killing that sparked national protests over police brutality against Black men.
  • The Packers remained in their locker room for the two songs, following the lead of the Miami Dolphins, who said in a video last week that they would stay off the field for the national anthem rather than participate in "empty gestures." The Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills, and New York Jets also remained in their locker rooms for the pregame ceremonies.
  • Other teams lined up on their sideline or along the goal line and locked arms. A few dozen players—was well as Indianapolis coach Frank Reich—knelt during the anthem, a silent echo of the 2016 protest by 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick that forced the NFL to confront racial injustice in a way that Commissioner Roger Goodell and many of the league's most powerful owners would have preferred to avoid.
(Read more NFL stories.)

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