NFL players kneel, raise fists or sit out National Anthem

(CNN)Several NFL players took a knee, raised fists or did not take to the field while the National Anthem was played Thursday night before preseason games.

The actions came weeks after the league shelved its new policy regarding conduct surrounding the anthem until it reaches an agreement with the NFL Players Association.
The Miami Herald reported that Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills, along with wide receiver Albert Wilson, knelt during the anthem before a home game against Tampa Bay.

WTVJ Miami reported that Dolphins defensive end Robert Quinn raised his fist during the song.
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The Philadelphia Daily News reported that Eagles defensive end Michael Bennett walked out of the tunnel during the playing of the anthem and headed to the team bench. The Daily News said Eagles captain Malcolm Jenkins and cornerback De’Vante Bausby raised their fists.
Several Jacksonville Jaguars players were not on the field for the playing of the anthem before their preseason game against the New Orleans Saints, according to The Florida Times Union. The players included Jalen Ramsey, Telvin Smith, Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon.
During the NFL Network’s television coverage of the Cleveland Browns and New York Giants game, 10 Giants were seen kneeling in unison in an end zone before the National Anthem was played.
A dozen games were played Thursday night. It was not immediately clear how many saw signs of protest.
The anthem controversy has been rumbling since 2016, when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the anthem to draw attention to racial injustice.
Kaepernick tweeted Thursday night, lauding the action of two players who protested.
The debate ratcheted up a notch in 2017 when US President Donald Trump said kneeling players showed “total disrespect for our great country.”
After withstanding two seasons of backlash against players kneeling, raising fists and displaying other means of protest during the anthem, the NFL said it would fine teams with protesting players directly, who in turn would have it in their discretion to enforce pregame anthem observations in their own ways.
After confusion, the NFL decided to take its new policy back to the drawing board and consult with the players association.
“The NFL and NFLPA, through recent discussions, have been working on a resolution to the anthem issue,” read the joint statement. “In order to allow this constructive dialogue to continue, we have come to a standstill agreement on the NFLPA’s grievance and on the NFL’s anthem policy.”

Colin Kaepernick strips down

cover_288x380This is an extended interview from the 2013 ESPN The Magazine Body Issue. Subscribe to The Mag today!

Why did you decide to pose for the Body Issue?
CK: I’m not your typical quarterback. I don’t like when people say, “Quarterbacks aren’t supposed to run” or “Quarterbacks aren’t supposed to work out a certain way.” Quarterbacks can still have good bodies. I’m always conscious of the stereotype. I want to change what people think. There’s a lot more to it than what you see on the field.

What did you set out to do with your training this offseason?
CK: To get faster and better at everything, from my drops to accuracy to the playbook. I took one week off after the Super Bowl, then went down to Atlanta. We train most of the day, from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. Coach [Jim] Harbaugh was a little worried I was going to get too jacked — he talked to me about that — but I think the biggest thing for a quarterback is making sure that as you get bigger, you keep your flexibility. You have to train hard and be strong while staying flexible and limber, so I’m trying to find that balance. I’ve been trying to make my legs stronger and more explosive and build more fast-twitch muscles. I’ve been running with bands and chains, I’ve been pushing sleds, I swim tied to a bungee. Will I be faster this year? You’ll just have to wait and see.

What do you think is your best physical skill?
CK: It would have to be my arm. A strong arm along with knowing where I want to throw the football can be a deadly combo. Teammates tell me to bring it down a notch in practice or that their hands are hurting. Randy Moss told me I was the first person to ever dislocate one of his fingers. That happened during my first “Monday Night Football” game. That was crazy to hear because he’s played with Tom Brady, Brett Favre, Daunte Culpepper — quarterbacks with strong arms. He wasn’t upset, more impressed. I think being a baseball pitcher helped my arm health. Throwing year-round kept my arm strong; it kept it conditioned. I topped out at 94 mph [pitching] in high school, and at the combine I clocked 59 with a football.

If you could change something about your body, what would it be?
CK: I wish I could get my legs bigger, but I can’t put weight on them. My legs will get stronger but never grow. One of my good friends, Kyle Williams, has huge calves, so I mess with him and he messes with me because my legs are skinny. We have opposite problems.

What is your favorite thing to do to train?
CK: I look forward to sprint work for the simple fact that you get to compete and see who is faster. Every rep, you are out there trying to win, trying to beat your teammates. It’s bragging rights. Even between reps there’s a little back and forth, and that only intensifies the workout and makes sure everyone is going hard.

When I lift, I try to do as heavy as possible until I can’t do it anymore. That helps me endure a season, and that’s what separates me. If we’re doing sets of five, it’s not, “All right, that was good, I’m comfortable with that.” No, I’m going to do it until my arms are about to give out or my legs are about to go. I think that earns the respect of teammates. They see I’m not just going in there, keeping my shoulder healthy and leaving. I think they appreciate that I’m trying to get stronger the same way they are.

What’s the biggest challenge you face with your body?
CK: Making sure I’m feeding my body the right things. I was a candy junkie and ate a lot of fast food in college, and that’s something I’m trying to cut out. From time to time I’ll relapse, but I stay away from junk as much as possible. And I can eat quite a bit. I don’t think I’d have any problem eating a whole pizza by myself.

Why are your tattoos so important to you?
CK: It’s what I believe in. They’re part of me. They relate to my faith or things that shaped who I am. My favorite right now is “My gift is my curse,” written on the inside of my arm. That’s applicable right now. There are great things I can do in this position, great opportunities, but there are also things I have to sacrifice. For instance, time with my family. And privacy, being able to go to the grocery store or mall and just hang out — that’s not something I can do. It’s unbelievable how different it is right now compared to last year. A lot of camera phones, a lot of pictures, a lot of signatures.

I didn’t just walk into a tattoo shop and say, Hey, I want that thing on the wall. All my tattoos were planned more than a year before I got them. I think if people knew what tattoos mean to people, they wouldn’t feel the same way about them. Kissing my biceps started from the whole tattoo controversy. I’d kiss “Faith” on my right biceps. That was my way of showing that I love my tattoos, and regardless of what anyone else thinks, they mean something to me. They’re more than just ink on my body. CONTINUE READING

CHECK OUT THE VIDEO INTERVIEW