On Saturday evening, as the rest of the Oakland Raiders players and staff stood during the playing of the national anthem before the team’s preseason game with the Arizona Cardinals, one player did not join them.
Running back Marshawn Lynch, who did not play in the game, was seated, on an orange Gatorade cooler.
Here is Lynch from the opposite angle, as tweeted by photographer Mark Rebilas:
— Mark J. Rebilas (@rebilasphoto) August 13, 2017
It is unclear whether Lynch was protesting or if he was protesting a social cause.
After the game, Raiders coach Jack Del Rio told reporters that he was surprised Lynch sat during the anthem. Del Rio spoke to Lynch and the player told him, “This is something I’ve done for 11 years. It’s not a form of anything other than me being myself.”
“I told him I very strongly believe in standing for the national anthem. But I respect him as a man and he can do his thing. So it’s a non-issue for me,” Del Rio said.
Lynch was not available in the locker room postgame.
Last season, as then-San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the anthem to protest injustice against people of color, Lynch was retired.
But last September, he appeared on Conan O’Brien’s late-night talk show and gave his support to Kaepernick’s protest.
“With what’s going on, I’d rather see him take a knee than stand up, put his hands up and get murdered,” Lynch said.
He added that he hoped people would focus more on Kaepernick’s cause – standing up against police brutality and working for racial equality – instead of his method of protest.
“I just hope people open up their eyes and see that there’s really a big problem going on and something needs to be done for it to stop,” Lynch said.
Lynch has not been the most talkative player in front of cameras and recorders, so it remains to be seen whether he will shed any light on his actions Saturday night.
Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said this week he will continue to raise his right first during the anthem this season, as he did last year. Jenkins released a statement explaining his stance:
“Last season, I raised my fist as a sign of solidarity to support people, especially people of color, who were and are still unjustly losing their lives at the hands of officers with little to no consequence.
“After spending time with police officers on ride-alongs, meeting with politicians on the state and federal level and grassroots organizations fighting for human rights, it’s clear that our criminal justice system is still crippling communities of color through mass incarceration.”