The Seahawks and Tennessee Titans have set a new precedent in NFL pregame statements against racial inequality and what President Donald Trump said about them this weekend.
As a United States Marine Corps color guard presented the U.S. flag on the field, both teams stayed off it during the anthem before Sunday’s game here at Nissan Stadium.
The anthem singer Meghan Linsey and her accompanying musician took a knee at the end of the anthem.
Minutes before the game, the Seahawks released this statement:
I confirmed that leading Seahawks players and coach Pete Carroll met Saturday at their team hotel to agree on how to word the official statement.
The Seahawks said their statement was for Sunday. It remains to be seen what the team does next week before its home game against Indianapolis, and beyond.
The Titans issued their own statement before they didn’t participate in Sunday’s anthem here, either.
“As a team, we wanted to be unified in our actions today. The players jointly decided this was the best course of action,” the Titans said. “Our commitment to the military and our community is resolute and the absence of our team for the national anthem shouldn’t be misconstrued as unpatriotic.”
President Trump told a rally in Alabama that NFL owners should “fire” any player who does not stand for the anthem before games to protest social causes.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired.’?” Trump said Friday night. “You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it [but] they’ll be the most popular person in this country.”
Seahawks Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett has been sitting during the anthem for six weeks.
“My mom is a beautiful lady she has never been a bitch,” Bennett posted on his Twitter feed Saturday.
All Saturday, Seattle’s players used the internet and social media to react from their team hotel where they are staying here for Sunday’s game against Tennessee.
“Wow! Is this what we’ve come to? The ‘leader’ of this country continues to try to divide us and now wants to divide one of the few thing that any and everyone can come together and enjoy no matter ethnic group you are. #WORRIEDABOUTALLTHEWRONGTHINGS” Pro Bowl defensive end Cliff Avril posted on his Twitter account Saturday.
The Pittsburgh Steelers had set a precedent earlier in the day when all their players stayed off the field during the anthem before their early game in Chicago. Offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva, a West Point graduate and Army war veteran, reportedly stood in a tunnel just off the field during the anthem while his teammates stayed on the locker room.
General manager John Schneider said on the Seahawks’ radio network’s pregame show from the field here that these “have been an interesting 48 hours here since we landed.
“These are difficult times,” Schneider said, mentioning “trying to keep 53, really 70-some players (including practice squad and injured reserve) together, right?” given they are from various backgrounds and beliefs.
“Pete had a long meeting with some guys (Saturday) afternoon, and we had a long team meeting last night that was pretty emotional.”
In the end, the GM saw this anthem issue and reaction to Trump as “hey, just another opportunity for us to come together as a team, and obviously already as a league, we have.”