Some members of the Seattle Seahawks have told reporters the entire team may symbolically join San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has been protesting racial disparities and police violence in the United States by refusing to stand for the playing of the national anthem prior to NFL games.
The Seahawks' spokeswoman didn't respond to our request for comment, but key members of the team, including cornerback Jeremy Lane, receiver Doug Baldwin, and linebacker Bobby Wagner were reported by the Guardian as saying that the team may have a surprise for the audience before Seattle's 11 September 2016 home game against the Miami Dolphins.
Also on 8 September 2016, Baldwin said the team plans to "honor the country and flag in a pregame demonstration of unity." According to Fox Sports, he remained vague when pressed by reporters, saying only, "you'll see on Sunday."
Lane has already joined Kaepernick in protest, sitting through the anthem, and he told the Seattle Times he plans to continue doing so. Other players have expressed concern over the ongoing issue of police violence and racial inequities in the criminal justice system.
While nothing has been set in stone, Wagner said his teammates have discussed the protest action in private:
Anything we want to do, it’s not going to be individual. It’s going to be a team thing. That’s what the world needs to see. The world needs to see people coming together versus being individuals. Whatever we decide to do will be a big surprise.
Baldwin added that the protest, which would occur on the 15th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., would be particularly poignant, if the team went through with it:
Even if it wasn’t 11 September, the point of the protest is to get people to think. I think it’s ironic that 15 years ago is one of the most devastating times in US history, and after that day we were probably the most unified that we’ve ever been. And today you struggle to see the unity.
Baldwin took to his Twitter account to challenge fans to think about the protest critically, writing, "We honor those who fight for our right to freedom of speech and then condemn those who exercise that right?"
However, Baldwin later defused the rumors by tweeting that "our team will honor the country and flag in a pregame demonstration of unity":
To express a desire to bring people together, our team will honor the country and flag in a pregame demonstration of unity.
— Doug Baldwin Jr (@DougBaldwinJr) September 8, 2016