We are now past 24 hours since statements from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, NFL Players Association head DeMaurice Smith and numerous team owners have begun to trickle in denouncing the comments of President Donald Trump, who has encouraged team owners to fire any players who protest during the national anthem.
Not every team has made a statement, and while the Oakland Raiders have released a formal statement on behalf of team owner Mark Davis, Davis spoke with ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez on Sunday and gave arguably the most real answer/statement of any owner to this point.
Davis admitted that he told Oakland players last year that he would prefer they didn’t protest, but the climate in the United States since then has made him change his mind.
Here’s his words, via Gutierrez:
“About a year ago, before our Tennessee game, I met with Derek Carr and Khalil Mack to ask their permission to have Tommie Smith light the torch for my father before the game in Mexico City. I explained to them that I was asking their permission because I had previously told them that I would prefer that they not protest while in the Raiders uniform. And should they have something to say, once their uniform was off, I might go up there with them. Over the last year, though, the streets have gotten hot and there has been a lot of static in the air and recently, fuel has been added to the fire. I can no longer ask our team to not say something while they are in a Raider uniform. The only thing I can ask them to do is do it with class. Do it with pride. Not only do we have to tell people there is something wrong, we have to come up with answers. That’s the challenge in front of us as Americans and human beings.”
Running back Marshawn Lynch, in his first season with his hometown team, has been sitting during the anthem this year, but he has not confirmed that it is in protest of inequality and injustice.
There was a report on Sunday morning that at minimum the Raiders’ entire starting offensive line will be seated before the team plays Washington on Sunday night. All five players are African-American, the only offensive line in the NFL right now with an all black starting five up front.
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