Jermichael Finley Says Anthem Protests Are 'Selfish' and About Marketing

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistAugust 15, 2017

Green Bay Packers' Jermichael Finley before an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
Mike Roemer/Associated Press

Former Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley questioned the motives of NFL players who choose to protest the national anthem.

Finley first addressed the story on Twitter.

"Athletes are looked up to & serve as roll [sic] models, leave personal opinions about race and politics alone. Do what you get paid to do & play!" he wrote in a since-deleted tweet, per Pro Football Talk's Charean Williams.

He elaborated on his stance in an interview with TMZ Sports.

"It's more of marketing, it's not really in their heart that they really want to do that," he said. "But once again, I think it's a selfish reason I really do."

Colin Kaepernick began the movement last year when he remained seated during the national anthem before a San Francisco 49ers preseason game.

"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick said to NFL Network's Steve Wyche. "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."

More NFL players followed suit, with some taking a knee—a tactic to which Kaepernick switched—and others raising their fist.

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Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett remained seated during the national anthem before Sunday's preseason clash with the Los Angeles Chargers, per the News Tribune's Gregg Bell:

A day before, Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch did the same prior to his team's matchup with the Arizona Cardinals, though he later told head coach Jack Del Rio he's been doing that for 11 years, per NFL.com.

Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins raised his fist before games last year but told reporters last week he was having reservations about carrying the protest over to the 2017 season.

"I don't want the story to be about me and the NFL and its new political stance," Jenkins said, per CSNPhilly.com's Dave Zangaro. "I want it to be about the actual issues. And so it's about finding out what's the most effective way to message that. But at the end of the day, there's no bigger platform than the one I stand on and I want to make sure that I use it appropriately."

Jenkins ultimately decided to continue the protest, raising his fist before the Eagles' preseason opener against the Green Bay Packers last Thursday.