With Week 4 of the NFL regular season about to get underway on Thursday, many people are wondering how the NFL will handle national anthem protests after a controversial Week 3. Every team in the NFL demonstrated in some way as a show of unity against President Donald Trump’s condemnation of anthem protests.
One team that won’t be doing any more demonstrations during the national anthem?
The Denver Broncos.
“Last week, members of our team joined their brothers around the NFL in a powerful display of unity. It was an emotional time for everyone, including the fans who support us each and every week. As controversial as it appeared, we needed to show our collective strength and resolve,” the team said in a statement.
“Make no mistake — our actions were in no way a protest of the military, the flag or those who keep us safe. We have nothing but the deepest love and respect for those who protect our way of life and the freedoms we enjoy as Americans.
“While there’s no greater country, it’s not perfect. Inequalities still exist, and we have work to do in ALL forms of social justice. We can all do better. It starts with us. We need to do our part and use our platform as NFL players to continue driving that positive change.
“Our locker room is one diverse place, and that’s what makes it so special. It’s where thoughtful, intelligent leaders from all different races, religions and backgrounds come together. We may have different values and beliefs, but there’s one thing we all agree on: We’re a team and we stand together — no matter how divisive some comments and issues can be, nothing should ever get in the way of that.
“Starting Sunday, we’ll be standing together.”
Perhaps this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. While some Denver players such as Brandon Marshall, who was a former teammate of Colin Kaepernick’s at Nevada, opted to take a knee at various times, there do seem to be some strong leaders in the Broncos organization.
Defensive end Derek Wolfe gave an impassioned defense of the United States and for standing during the anthem last week when he told “If you don’t think we are the greatest country in the world and you reside here, then why do you stay?”
John Elway, the team’s president of football operations, also defended standing for the anthem, as well as for keeping politics out of sports.
“I’m one that really believes in standing for the flag,” Elway told Broncos TV on Tuesday. I understand the players and the way they felt from the comments that were made earlier in the week. They felt they had to go down and kneel and that’s up to them. Hopefully, as we go forward, we can start concentrating on football a little bit more. Take the politics out of football. But I think that last week was a good show of unity by the NFL and hopefully this week we can move forward.”
It looks like internal and external pressure was enough for the Broncos to change their minds about protesting during the anthem.
If the maelstrom of controversy persists, other teams may soon follow suit.