The number of NFL players protesting during the national anthem to bring attention to social injustices against the African American community has been on the rise. It began last year with Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers, but this preseason, players from the Seattle Seahawks, Philadelphia Eagles, Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, and Los Angeles Rams joined the movement by sitting, kneeling, or raising a fist during the anthem.
The largest protest to date was Monday night, when 11 Cleveland Browns (including former Michigan Wolverine Jabrill Peppers) knelt in a circle, while two others stood with their hands on the shoulders of their teammates.
Most NFL players not involved have remained silent on the issue, including Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. The same cannot be said for his wife Kelly Stafford, who posted the following today on Instagram:
"If you think the country can be better, stand for the ideal. If you think the answer is people showing unity, stand with them. The anthem is not the national police song. The anthem is not the national racists song. The anthem is an exercise in how this country can endure and rise, how we can agree on its future potential, even while struggling with its present. The anthem’s words depict a flag that is suffering through bombs and rockets. You could easily view those bombs and rockets as the challenges our democracy faces today, and the flag a symbol of rising above them." -Mitch albom I've been hesitant to talk about this, as I know I will get backlash from it.. but I believe we can stand and show our unity against everything that doesn't represent what this flag stands for. Let's stand united against terrorists, against racism, against white supremacists, against killing of cops, against police brutality, against sex slave trafficking.. against anything that is not the ideal for this country. Let's unite in the fact that God made us all unique and different and that is something we should cherish. You can disagree with me and that is totally ok.. let's use this forum to discuss (not yell at each other) and listen to one another. #landofthefree #homeofthebrave #illstandwithyou #nfl #standunited #unitedwestand
So far, no Lions have taken part in a similar public protest. However, Detroit receiver Golden Tate stated last week that he wanted to protest in some fashion, but did not want a perceived lack of respect for the national anthem to take away from his message. That prompted me to offer Tate this suggestion that would still be public without interrupting the anthem.
With the recent exponential growth in these protests over the last two weeks, it is likely that some of Stafford’s teammates will eventually take part, maybe as early as this Friday night when Detroit hosts the New England Patriots in their third preseason game. Whether people agree or disagree with the protests or Mrs. Stafford’s thoughts, this could cause some division in the Lions locker room.