Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch sat during the national anthem Saturday night before his team's preseason opener against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium, and head coach Jack Del Rio addressed the decision.
"On Marshawn, talked to Marshawn trying to make sure we're on the same page," Del Rio said, per NFL.com. "He said, 'This is something I've done for 11 years. It's not a form of anything other than me being myself.' I said, 'So you understand how I feel, I very strongly believe in standing for the national anthem. But I'm going to respect you as a man, you do your thing. We'll do ours.' It's a non-issue for me."
A report from Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk refuted that Lynch has been sitting during "The Star-Spangled Banner" for the past 11 years, however:
"PFT tracked down a video of the national anthem before the November 13, 2011, Ravens-Seahawks game in Seattle, and that video clearly shows Lynch standing for the anthem. We have not been able to find any photos or videos showing Lynch sitting out the anthem at any time in the 11 years since he entered the NFL, until Saturday night.
"It's possible that Lynch has skipped the anthem in some settings, but Del Rio's statement made it sound like Lynch has consistently sat out the anthem throughout his career. He hasn't."
While Lynch wasn't in the NFL last season as Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem to protest police brutality and the unequal treatment of minorities in the United States, he expressed solidarity with him.
"With what’s going on, I'd rather see him take a knee than stand up, put his hands up and get murdered, so I mean, my take on it is, [expletive] we've got to start somewhere, and if that was the starting point, I just hope people open up their eyes to see that there's really a problem going on, and something needs to be done for it to stop," he told Conan O'Brien in September. "If you're really not racist, then you won’t see what he's doing as a threat to America."
Lynch's motivations for sitting during the anthem are unclear, but it's possible he was doing so in protest and in an homage to Kaepernick.
Lynch, 31, was traded to the Raiders this offseason from Seattle after a one-season retirement from the NFL. He suited up for Saturday's contest but did not play in the game itself. He is expected to be the team's starting running back this season.