Wilson Has Hand In Seahawks Demonstration; Were All Titans In On Decision?
The Seahawks and Titans did not take the field for the national anthem on Sunday before their game at Nissan Stadium, and Seahawks QB Russell Wilson "believed that locking arms and standing for the anthem, as the team had done last season, was not enough," according to Robert Klemko of THE MMQB. Seahawks DE Michael Bennett said of Wilson, "He's actually one of the main people who wanted to do something." Seahawks CB Richard Sherman said, "He had an epiphany of sorts when he saw the Trump comments. Something changed in his mind. He was ready to kneel, sit, whatever needed to be done. He was ready to go there for his teammates and for the greater good, and you’re not seeing that out of the premier quarterbacks in this league." Klemko noted the Seahawks' locker room was "far from united on the issue" prior to the game. Players "debated for more than an hour on Saturday morning after the walkthrough, and then again with coaches participating at the end of an extended team meeting Saturday night." Sherman said that players were "ultimately seeking a unified response, and some dissenters from the majority opinion conceded that abstaining from the anthem altogether would shield them from answering questions about why they stood while others knelt or sat." A "quorum of leaders ... agreed the best response was to skip the anthem and remain in the locker room." They "told the team of their decision 30 minutes before gametime." Klemko noted Wilson’s "vocal involvement is a significant development in a league where quarterbacks -- the most visible players on any team -- have stayed mum on the debate" (SI.com, 9/25). CBSSPORTS.com's Will Brinson wrote Wilson is a "surprising player to lead such a protest." He has "shown that he cares very much about society as a whole," but he is "buttoned up a bit." Wilson "doesn't always push the boundaries and has typically stayed between the mustard and the mayonnaise when it comes to his approach to public relations" (CBSSPORTS.com, 9/25).
DID THEY OR DIDN'T THEY? Titans coach Mike Mularkey said that it was his "understanding that all of his players agreed to remain in the locker room during the national anthem" before the Seahawks game. In Nashville, Cardenas & Wolf report TMZ published comments from country music singer Jessie James Decker, the wife of Titans WR Eric Decker, who said a "decision was made for him without him knowing." Mularkey "refused to answer additional questions about how the decision was made or whether the team will continue to remain in the locker room during the national anthem" before Sunday's game against the Texans (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 9/26).
TALK IT OUT: The Dolphins held a team meeting prior to their loss to the Jets, and S Michael Thomas said, "It was totally the opposite of what happened last year. We brought it up to the team and black, white -- it didn’t matter. Everybody was like, ‘Hey, let’s figure out a way to do something where we’re all together.’" He added, "It was great to have everybody doing something together as a team to just join the conversation. You can no longer stay silent. You can no longer be neutral, either.” More Thomas: "It is huge for us to have our team behind us. More people joining the conversation this year is huge. Even players who don’t want to protest, at least this year they’re saying, ‘I stand behind my brother. Because the cause that he’s fighting for means a lot to him, I support him.’ That’s huge" (PALM BEACH POST, 9/26).