Kneeling extends beyond the players.
Sunday morning, the wave of silent protests from coaches, players and owners in response to President Donald Trump’s controversial remarks during a speech on Friday bled over beyond the NFL’s organizations as a Detroit artist who sang the national anthem ahead of the Lions’ match up against the Atlanta Falcons took a knee during his performance.
It was singer Rico LaVelle, who upon reaching the anthem’s final word 'brave’, took a knee with a fist raised high in the middle of the 65,000-capacity Ford Field in Downtown Detroit. LaVelle’s actions came in the midst of nationwide protests from players across the NFL during Sunday’s games as they stood in solidarity by taking a knee, locking arms, or in the case of the Pittsburgh Steelers, stayed behind in the locker room altogether.
They come behind Donald Trump’s comments in referring to NFL players who kneel during the national anthem as “sons of bithces” who should be fired. It was during a rally on Friday in Alabama in support of United States Senate candidate Luther Strange that Trump criticized the league, claiming that “they’re ruining the game” by taking strides to make it less violent, and urged fans to walk out on games where players kneel during the opening anthem.
His comments draw a direct line to former 49ers quaterback Colin Kaepernick who has become the de facto face of the ‘Take A Knee’ campaign in which athletes silently protest in response to the racial injustices against people of color in the United States. Ahead of Sunday’s faceoffs plenty of players had spoken out against the president via social media, condemning his words and vowing their support of Kap and the overall movement.
Beyond the NFL, rookie baseball player Bruce Maxwell, a catcher with the Oakland A’s made history by becoming the first MLB player to take a knee during the national anthem on Saturday.
“The point of my kneeling is not to disrespect our military. It’s not to disrespect our constitution. It’s not to disrespect our country," said Maxwell in a statement. "My hand was over my heart because I love this country….I’m kneeling for a cause, but I’m in no way or form disrespecting my country or my flag.”