The New York Giants’ Olivier Vernon took a knee for the U.S. national anthem on Thursday night in a game against the Washington Redskins.
Vernon, a defensive end, has consistently not stood for the anthem before games.
He was shown on NBC cameras on Thanksgiving night doing a silent protest.
Some fans pilloried Vernon, 27, for the move on social media
Earlier this season, he attempted to explain his reasoning for the protest.
“What it would take for me to stand is if people can understand what the whole message is behind it,” he told Newsday. “That would actually help a whole lot, but everybody doesn’t see things that way and tries to distort what the message was from the beginning, which is basically social injustice on African-Americans and police brutality.”
President Donald Trump has been the most vocal opponent of the protests, saying that they have turned off fans.
“The NFL is now thinking about a new idea — keeping teams in the Locker Room during the National Anthem next season,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “That’s almost as bad as kneeling! When will the highly paid Commissioner finally get tough and smart? This issue is killing your league!”
He’s referring to a new report from The Washington Post, citing unnamed sources, that said league executives are considering doing away with having players and coaches stand out on the field during the anthem. That was implemented in 2009.
Earlier in the week, Trump slammed Oakland Raiders player Marshawn Lynch for sitting for the national anthem while standing for the Mexican national anthem during a game in Mexico City against the New England Patriots. A few other players around the league have persisted in protesting, but free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick is credited with starting the movement, saying it’s to raise awareness about police brutality.
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