NFL Players Demonstrate With Raised Fists and Interlocking Arms

Here’s how NFL players expressed themselves during the National Anthem on Sunday.


The first Sunday of the NFL season saw a variety of players demonstrating during the National Anthem in a variety of different ways.

Four Miami Dolphins, including Arian Foster, followed the lead of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and took a knee during the anthem. Foster, who said a couple weeks ago that he didn’t see Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the anthem as “solution to anything,” apparently had a change of heart.

On the other sideline in that same game, the Seattle Seahawks pulled off a different type of demonstration. During the performance of the national anthem, players locked arms in a display of “unity.”

“We are a team comprised of individuals with diverse backgrounds,” wide receiver Doug Baldwin said in a video released before the game

“And as a team, we have chosen to stand and interlock arms in unity. We honor those who have fought for the freedom we cherish. And we stand to ensure the riches of freedom and the security of justice for all people. Progress can and will be made only if we stand together.”

A slightly more in-your-face method of protest also emerged Sunday when Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters raised a fist during the national anthem. Peters wore a black glove on the raised fist, a not-too-subtle nod to Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the two American sprinters who made the same gesture on the Olympic podium in 1968.

Peters explained his thinking after the game. “I’m black. I love being black and I’m supporting Colin as far as what he’s doing as far as raising awareness of with justice system,” he said. “The struggle I see, I’ve got family members are still in the struggle.”

Getty Images

Peters’ gesture was repeated before the Sunday Night Football game between the Patriots and Cardinals. As the national anthem ended, Patriots tight end Martellus Bennet and safety Devin McCourty were shown on NBC with fists raised to the sky. 

The demonstrative displays were not solely exhibited by those hoping to register their disapproval of racial inequity. Across the league, players held on to the giant American flags unfurled during the national anthem, in a move that seemed as if it was meant to counter the protests. 

Some individual players, like the Patriots Danny Amendola, jumped forward and grabbed on to the flag as the rest of their team stood back. While in Jacksonville, where the Packers were playing their the season opener, both teams joined police, fire fighters and military members and held the flag. 


Adam K. Raymond