Poll Shows Majority of Americans Support NFL Players Kneeling During Anthem

Megan ArmstrongSenior Analyst IIIJune 11, 2020

San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Eli Harold, left, quarterback Colin Kaepernick, center, and safety Eric Reid kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Fifty-two percent of 1,570 Americans surveyed by Yahoo News and YouGov agreed "it is OK for NFL players to kneel during the national anthem to protest police killings of African Americans," according to Yahoo's Jay Busbee

Busbee provided a more specific breakdown:

"For the question 'Is it OK for NFL players to kneel during the national anthem to protest police killings of African Americans?' both male and female respondents agreed that it was, by a margin of 52 percent to 37 percent (male) and 52 percent to 34 percent (female). Younger respondents tended to be more favorable to the idea, with 68 percent of those 18-29 agreeing that it was. That number steadily declined to 36 percent of respondents over 65."

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the first to kneel during the national anthem during the 2016 NFL preseason. The 32-year-old continued to do so, while numerous players throughout the league joined in the protest against police brutality and racial injustice.

Kaepernick explained his decision after he first knelt:

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The killing of George Floyd, an unarmed 46-year-old black man who died in Minneapolis police custody May 25, and subsequent nationwide protests have sparked conversation around athletes beginning to kneel during the national anthem again.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees received widespread backlash last week for saying he "will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country" but immediately apologized and changed his stance:

"Just four years ago, you're seeing [Colin] Kaepernick taking a knee, and now we're all getting ready to take a knee together going into this season, without a doubt," Washington All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson told the Houston Chronicle on June 5 (h/t CBS News).

Floyd was pronounced dead at a local Minneapolis hospital shortly after since-fired officer Derek Chauvin knelt on the back of his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.

Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder, second-degree manslaughter and third-degree murder. Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao—the other three officers involved in Floyd's arrest—are each facing aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

Protests have also been in the name of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old unarmed black woman who was shot and killed in her home after off-duty Louisville officers used a no-knock warrant to enter her home, as well as countless other black people who have been victimized by systemic racism.