National anthem protests continue in the NFL

In 2016, National Football League (NFL) quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, chose to kneel during the pregame performance of the national anthem.

Eric Reid, Marquise Goodwin and Adrian Colbert of the San Francisco 49ers kneel during the national anthem. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

This season, professional football players have continued to use the national anthem as a way to comment on the current political climate, specifically race relations in the United States.

On Aug. 26, defensive end for the Seattle Seahawks, Michael Bennett, was held at gunpoint by a police officer in Las Vegas. He accused the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) of racial profiling as well as the use of excessive force.

“I felt helpless as I lay there on the ground handcuffed facing the real-life threat of being killed,” Bennett stated.

During the first week of the NFL season, Bennett knelt during “The Star-Spangled Banner” in response to his interaction with the LVMPD.

His brother, Martellus Bennett, supported him by also protesting the national anthem before the first game of the season by raising his fist during the performance.

Martellus Bennett doesn’t regret his choice to protest a symbol of America.

“I’m okay with being fired for what I believe in,” Martellus Bennett stated.

The responses to these protests are varied, but one supporter of the movement is Cody Cory, head coach of the DHS football team.

Members of the Decatur High School football team wait on the sidelines during their first game against McIntosh High School.

“It’s a peaceful and non-aggressive way to protest and kneeling in a lot of areas is a sign of respect,” Cory said.

Although he agrees with these protests in the NFL, Cory doesn’t consider high school football a stage for these types of demonstrations.

“High school is different because you’re not a professional, you’re a representation of your school,” Cory said.