Football Players Who Took Part in #TakeAKnee and Why They Did It

On Sunday, Sept. 24, over 200 football players protested during the national anthem, according to Time. #TakeAKnee was trending Sunday and those took part all had a diverse set of reasons behind why they did it. It was generally seen as a nod to Colin Kaepernick’s initial decision to kneel last year, when he was still playing for the 49ers, as a protest against the injustice and the mistreatment of people of color in the United States. Many have misconstrued his message and claimed he was disrespecting troops, but that was never the intent. According to CNN, Kaepernick himself has said that “The media painted this as I’m anti-American, anti-men and women of the military and that’s not the case at all. I realize that the men and women of the military go out and sacrifice their lives and put themselves in harm’s way for my freedom of speech and my freedoms in this country and my freedom to take a seat or take a knee. So, I have the utmost respect for them.”

Courtesy: Kelly L. Cox, USA Today Sports

Kaepernick has stated why he’s protested time and again, but Sunday’s protestors didn’t all have the same motivations. What drove most of them to kneel were Donald Trump’s words while he was addressing a crowd in Alabama last Friday: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag, to say: ‘Get that S.O.B off the field! He’s fired! He’s fired!’.” Hundreds of athletes felt disrespected by his remarks and decided to protest his message by kneeling, raising a fist, interlocking arms with their teammates or staying in the locker room during the anthem altogether.

Rishard Mathews

Courtesy: George Walker IV, USA Today Sports

Titans Wide Receiver, Rishard Mathews raised his fist after his touchdown. Mathews took offense to Trump’s comment as says he will continue to kneel until the President releases an apology. According to ESPN, both his father and brother served this country and his brother passed away while doing so. He explains that he’s “tired of hearing ‘stick to sports’” because they may be football players, but they are people too.

Christian Kirksey

Courtesy: Ken Blaze, USA Today Sports

In the effort of trying handle the situation with tact, Christian Kirksey says he and his team were praying during the national anthem. According to SB Nation, Kirksey and fellow teammates were, “praying over the country, praying over things that are going on.”

Jelani Jenkins

Courtesy: James Walker, @JamesWalkerNFL

Jenkins and a number of his teammates from the Miami Dolphins took a knee during the anthem. According to NBC Miami, Jenkins decided to protest because: “I would like to keep moving forward in the right direction with everybody: equal rights, equal opportunity. From my position, it doesn't seem that it's happening…"

Some took issue with the NFL for the manner in which they chose to protest, explaining that football players should find another way or another time to voice their grievances. On the other side, others were wary of the fact that football players are only protesting now that they feel personally insulted. Not when Colin Kaepernick was speaking about the injustice and inequality that started all of this.