How NFL Teams, Players Observed National Anthem on Opening Sunday

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistSeptember 10, 2017

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 10: Members of the Cleveland Police join the Cleveland Browns on the sidelines during the National Anthem prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 10, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

With added attention being paid to the national anthem before each NFL game, Sunday's season openers featured a different tone than the one that was present throughout 2016.

Kaylee Remington of Cleveland.com reported Sept. 3 the Cleveland police union wasn't going to hold the American flag prior to the Cleveland Browns' opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers after several players on the team took a knee as the national anthem played prior to a preseason game in August.

"It's just ignorant for someone to do that," Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association President Steve Loomis told Remington. "It just defies logic to me. The fact that management was aware of what they planned on doing, that's as offensive as it can get."

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported Sunday the Browns would play a video during pregame ceremonies "in which players express concerns about racial equality in America."

This was what aired on the big screen in Cleveland's FirstEnergy Stadium:

In addition, Browns players were joined on the field by team owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam, police officers, firefighters and members of the United States armed forces.

Per Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal, many Cleveland players "locked arms with each other and with first responders" and all stood during the national anthem.

In Houston, which is still reeling from the devastating impact of Hurricane Harvey two weeks ago, the Texans hosted the Jacksonville Jaguars—whose home state of Florida is in the midst of its own disastrous storm, with Hurricane Irma making landfall Sunday.

The Texans and Jaguars chose to stand for the national anthem, and a massive flag covered the field at NRG Stadium:

Before the Atlanta Falcons-Chicago Bears game, opera singer Jim Cornelison performed a stirring rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Soldier Field:

New Tennessee Titans wide receiver Eric Decker's wife, Jessie James Decker, performed the national anthem prior to the Titans' game against the Oakland Raiders:

During Decker's rendition of the anthem, Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch sat on the team's bench, as he did throughout the preseason:

A few fans at games across the country provided their perspectives on what occurred during national anthems:

Los Angeles Rams outside linebacker Robert Quinn continued to take part in his silent protest during the anthem by raising his fist in the air, via Paolo Uggetti of The Ringer:

Brothers Michael and Martellus Bennett, who have been outspoken about why they participate in this movement, took different approaches to protesting prior to the game between the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers:

ESPN's Josina Anderson tweeted an image of each Bennett brother during the national anthem:

Michael told reporters during the preseason he planned to sit for the national anthem all season:

"The last week, with everything that's been going on in the last couple months—especially after the last couple days seeing everything in Virginia—just wanted to be able to continue to use my platform to be able to speak on injustice.

"First of all, I want to make sure that people understand I love the military. My father was in the military. I love hot dogs, like any other American. I love football like any other American.

"But I don't love segregation. I don't love riots. I don't love oppression. I don't love gender slander. And I just want to see people have equality that they deserve."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee tweeted an image of the San Francisco 49ers sideline, where safety Eric Reid kneeled with a number of his teammates gathered around him:

Last year, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began a movement when he took a knee during the national anthem prior to games to protest racial and social injustices in the United States.

One year after Kaepernick began his demonstration, his voice remained present while teams and players took their own approaches to what he started.

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