Under coach Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks players are encouraged to be who they are as individuals, and it’s a method that’s worked: Seattle has been to the playoffs every year but one in seven-plus years on Carroll’s watch.
In recent years, as social issues like injustice and inequality have been pushed to the forefront of the conversation for many Americans, that’s meant Seahawks players have at times been outspoken. Last year, Seattle players opted to link arms as a symbol of team unity during the anthem. This season has seen defensive end Michael Bennett sit during the anthem, and teammate Doug Baldwin wonder why some feel Bennett is wrong but he sees fans in every stadium yelling and cursing while the “Star Spangled Banner” is being performed.
So it’s no surprise that on Sunday, before the Seahawks game in Nashville against the Tennessee Titans, the team’s public relations group posted a statement, credited to all of the players, on its Twitter account:
“As a team, we have decided we will not participate in the national anthem,” it read. “We will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of color in this country. Out of love for our country and in honor of the sacrifices made on our behalf, we unite to oppose those that would deny us our most basic freedoms. We remain committed in continuing to work towards equality and justice for all.”
And they have the full support of their organization. On Saturday night, Carroll posted a thoughtful statement to his Twitter account, saying in part, “In this incredibly polarizing time, there’s no longer a place to sit silently. It’s time to take a stand.”
But it wasn’t just the Seahawks. Their opponents, the Titans, also were not on the field for the anthem. In a statement posted to the team’s website, Tennessee made sure to clarify that not participating had nothing to do with patriotism.
“As a team, we wanted to be unified in our actions today. The players jointly decided this was the best course of action. Our commitment to the military and our community is resolute and the absence of our team for the national anthem shouldn’t be misconstrued as unpatriotic,” it read.