Carr and Mack: Hand on shoulder during anthem wasn’t a protest

Mike Florio
ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports

As Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch sat again for the national anthem, quarterback Derek Carr stood with a hand on linebacker Khalil Mack. After the game, Carr made it clear that he and Mack weren’t engaged in any form of protest.

“We wanted to show them that it’s OK for a white kid and a black kid that come from two different neighborhoods [to] grow up and love one another and be best friends,” Carr said, via Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com. “And that’s what me and Khalil are — we’re best friends and we love one another.”

The gesture specifically occurred during the anthem because Carr (pictured talking to Lynch during last night’s game) and Mack realize that everyone is now watching what happens when the anthem is being played.

“[W]e see what’s going on in the world and, obviously, everyone pays attention to the national anthem nowadays, and so we just said this was the best time to do it while still honoring our country,” Carr said. “Because I love this country, more than anything. We’re free to live here and play this game, but we’re also free to show each other that we love one another. And I think that that’s the message, and that’s the only message we were trying to get out.”

Mack echoed those sentiments.

“To show [that] different races can get along, white, black, whatever you are, get along and be friends and . . . just show unity,” Mack said, per Gutierrez. “Show togetherness. It’s discussed a lot. It’s one of the things I feel passionately about, but I just don’t like the attention, the attention that comes with it. But at the same time, just using my platform for positivity is what’s important for me.”

Raiders safety Shalom Luani opted to take a knee during the anthem. Luani said after the game, according to Gutierrez, that Luani was praying, not protesting.

The fact that Carr and Mack would feel compelled to show the world that people of different races can enjoy the same kind of relationship that people of the same race can is encouraging in light of recent events. But it’s also more than a little depressing that the lesson of Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder and their piano keys existing side by side apparently has come undone and needs to be taught all over again.

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