Numerous NFL players continued to protest during the national anthem on Thursday night as the first full slate of preseason games kicked off for 2018.
Notwithstanding the contentions encompassing the protests, several players refrained from accompanying others on the field or held their fists in the air while others decided to kneel.
Wide receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson, both of the Miami Dolphins, knelt during “The Star-Spangled Banner,” ahead of their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Miami Herald reported.
Robert Quinn, a defensive end for the Dolphins, raised his fist. Philadelphia Eagles Malcolm Jenkins, who plays safety, and De’Vante Bausby, a cornerback, also raised their fists prior to a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Defensive end Michael Bennett walked out of the tunnel as the anthem played and “spent the anthem walking toward the bench,” the news outlet reported. Teammate Chris Long reportedly “placed his arm around Jenkins’ shoulder” during the song.
The NFL released a statement on the preseason protests.
“The NFL has been engaged in constructive discussions with the NFL Players Association regarding the anthem and issues of equality and social justice that are of concern to many Americans,” the statement said. “While those discussions continue, the NFL has agreed to delay implementing or enforcing any club work rules that could result in players being disciplined for their conduct during the performance of the anthem.”
The statement went on to say that the league’s national anthem policy remained unchanged: it will continue to be played before each game, and all players and team staff on the field are expected to stand for the flag and the anthem. Those who choose not to stand must remain in the locker rooms.
“We remain committed to working with the players to identify solutions and to continue making progress on important social issues affecting our communities,” the statement concluded.
The NFL modified its national anthem protocol in May, prohibiting any sort of demonstrations for the 2018 season, but allowing players to remain in the locker room during the anthem if they chose to. Individual teams would be responsible for disciplining any demonstrators.
The players’ union filed a grievance about the policy change, and late last month, the new policy was put on hold while the NFL and NFL Players Association work on a resolution.