Quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the first in the NFL to kneel during the national anthem as a means of protesting police brutality and racial injustice while he was a member of the San Francisco 49ers in 2016, and the franchise made kneeling-related headlines again Thursday.
As Damian Trujillo of NBC Bay Area shared, a 49ers cheerleader knelt during the national anthem before Thursday's game against the Oakland Raiders at Levi's Stadium:
While Kaepernick has since been involved in Nike's 30th-anniversary "Just Do It" campaign, he hasn't played in the NFL since he opted out of his 49ers contract following the 2016 season. He then filed a collusion grievance against the league in October 2017.
Kneeling during the anthem has been a divisive issue, and the sitting president even said during a rally that NFL owners should "get that son of a b---h off the field right now" if a player knelt. Donald Trump has since made it a talking point during campaign rallies and on Twitter.
A number of players and teams protested during the anthem in Week 3 of the 2017 season following Trump's comments.
The league and the NFL Players Association agreed to freeze a policy this past offseason that called for players to either remain in the locker room during the anthem or stand. Fines were to be handed out if players didn't stand with the policy in effect.