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:

Cleveland Browns @Browns

A special message on unity and equality from members of the Cleveland Browns. https://t.co/CvyTdgTaIS

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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.

Cleveland Browns @Browns

#UnitedByStripes 🇺🇸 https://t.co/xqgsOcZlHT

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.

Daryl Ruiter @RuiterWrongFAN

Police, military & first responders stand with #Browns during national anthem https://t.co/V6AnZl23S1

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:

Matt Young @Chron_MattYoung

Looks like no national anthem protests by either the Texans or Jaguars today. Saw no kneeling, sitting or fists raised. https://t.co/CaeXhmiMSw

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

Andy Masur @Andy_Masur1

Hey it's @Anthem_Singer with the Star Spangled Banner. #Hawks #Bears https://t.co/z69E7qcEZg

David Mazza @DavidNBC4

Bears had best start to a game. @Anthem_Singer performing #NationalAnthem and the B2 bomber flyover to finish!

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:

AtoZSports Nashville @AtoZSports

.@EricDecker87's wife @JessieJDecker sings the National Anthem. #Titans https://t.co/KiM7SNS5m7

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

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

Marshawn Lynch sat during the national anthem before today's game vs. the Titans. [Credit: AP Photo/Mark Zaleski] https://t.co/bjZBE39o7W

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

Deb @Deb6246

At Bengals-Ravens game... All players stood for national anthem 🇺🇸 https://t.co/2hs2L3EiPd

Scotty P! @ScottyP06061944

Wow! The Marine Captain #SkyeMartin, singing the National Anthem for the Lions should be their Karen Newman!! She rocks!!!

Rudy Gersten @DCBarno

No Redskins kneeling for the National Anthem https://t.co/QP5KBSU8wb

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:

Paolo Uggetti @PaoloUggetti

Rams' Robert Quinn during the national anthem https://t.co/FQUabSNe6E

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:

Ryan Wood @ByRyanWood

#Packers TE Martellus Bennett raised his right fist in the air through national anthem while brother Michael Bennett protested by kneeling.

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

ig: josinaanderson @JosinaAnderson

A photo of #Packers TE Martellus Bennett #80 with his fist up in what looks like a black glove. His brother Michael #72 sat down. #SEAvGB https://t.co/9Z5jV3iBGA

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:

Matt Barrows @mattbarrows

Scene from national anthem; Eric Reid kneeling while several teammates have his back. https://t.co/IRQ5moSILq

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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