Aug 21, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Members of the Cleveland Browns kneel during the national anthem before a game against the New York Giants at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
With the number of national anthem protests we saw during the NFL preseason, it was widely expected that Week 1 would feature several such demonstrations across the league. Surprisingly, there were very few. That may not have been a coincidence.
Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report spoke with several current and former NFL players, and the consensus he got was that players believe national anthem protests are fizzling out.
“The anthem protests are basically dead,” one veteran player told Freeman.
Freeman believes the lack of interest in protests stems from a disconnect between older and younger players, with the latter not really caring as much about the cause. Here’s more:
But, overall, players say the movement has slowed to a crawl.
The question is why?
The answer seems to be a simple one: complacency.
As far as I can tell, owners have not threatened any players. Nor have any coaches.
And while a large faction of older players wants to organize the anthem protests so they last through the season, they are meeting great resistance from younger players who don’t seem to care.
In other words, the players are not unified enough to keep the anthem protests going strong.
Michael Bennett and his brother Martellus both made statements during the national anthem before their game, albeit in different ways. Michael, of course, is planning to file a lawsuit against the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department after he says he was a victim of racism and police brutality.
All it takes is one star player to kneel during the anthem for the conversation to start up again, but perhaps more players are going to take the approach that the Cleveland Browns took before their Week 1 game in an attempt to unify the community.