No NFL players protested during the national anthem before early Sunday games as the league celebrated Veterans Day weekend by honoring the military.
Update as of 5 p.m. ET: In the late Sunday games, a few players protested. According to ESPN: “The number of 49ers kneeling during the anthem dropped from four to two on Sunday as safety Eric Reid and wide receiver Marquise Goodwin knelt in protest of racial inequality in the country. Wide receiver Louis Murphy held up his right fist during the anthem in his first game since re-signing with the team this week.”
“In other games Sunday, Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon continued to kneel during the anthem and inactive Rams linebacker Robert Quinn put his right fist in the air. Punter Johnny Hekker put his arm around Quinn as a show of support, as usual.”
The NFL Players Association had asked all players to observe a two-minute moment of silence before games to honor veterans. It, however, didn’t make it mandatory, according to a recent statement.
The NFL and NFLPA issued a statement on Saturday about Veterans Day, according to the Washington Times in a report on Saturday, Nov. 11.
The NFL and NFLPA said on Saturday, “There has been no change in the current policy regarding the anthem,” saying NFL players “should” stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” It, however, doesn’t make a requirement for them to stand, the Times reported.
The Times reported that a “half-dozen Seattle Seahawks players who have sat during the national anthem stood up for the flag at Thursday night’s game.”
Boycott the NFL, a Facebook page with more than 227,000 followers, called on fans to turn the games off on Sunday and Monday “in solidarity with veterans around the country,” and other conservative watchdog groups asked fans to do the same.
“We’re sending the National Football League, its corporate sponsors, and the television networks a message this Veterans Day weekend!” added conservative group 2ndVote. “Americans are sick of the disrespectful National Anthem protests that the NFL has not only allowed to continue, but has institutionalized in pregame ceremonies.”
Even players who have been protesting most of the season stood for the anthem this week, including the Seahawks’ Michael Bennett, who stood before Thursday night’s game. Titans receiver Rishard Matthews walked onto the field holding hands with soldiers and stood with teammates for the anthem for the first time since President Trump criticized players for protesting.
Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began the protest movement last season. He remains unsigned and has filed a complaint that team owners colluded against him because of the protests, which he said were aimed at police brutality against African-Americans and other issues.
Roger Goodell and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said they’ll discuss social matters next week.
“Today owners and players had a productive meeting focused on how we can work together to promote positive social change and address inequality in our communities. NFL executives and owners joined NFLPA executives and player leaders to review and discuss plans to utilize our platform to promote equality and effectuate positive change. We agreed that these are common issues and pledged to meet again to continue this work together,” a statement reads, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.