About 20 players participated in the act of solidarity.
On Saturday, a group made up of about 20 players on the University of michigan’s football squad stood in a circle, with their heads and arms interlocked during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” ahead of their rvalry match against Michigan State.
Saturday’s game was the first time that Michigan took to the field since President Donald Trump’s controversial remarks in which he crudely criticized players in the NFL who kneel during the national anthem. "A few of us talked about it," senior linebacker Mike McCray noted. "Just with the social injustice in the world and a few things that have happened with racism and things like that. We left we needed to show support."
Following Trump’s comments, over 250 players in the NFL knelt as a form of peaceful protest against racial inequality in the United States. Michigan’s coach Jim Harbaugh was questioned on his seniments on the situation and what his response would be if any of his players knelt. “I would respect their right to do so,” he responded early on.
Last fall, several players expressed their form of protest through raising their fists, but the team has never quite put on a display of unity such as this before. Prior to kickoff, the team also played a video that featured student athelets and athletic director Warde Manuel as they asked fans and supporters to be mindful of the opinions of the athletes who take to the field and to be aware of and willing to speak on social injustices.
Ultimately, the No. 7 Wolverines succumbed to Michigan State with a score of 14-10 capping off the evening, with the Spartans taking the victory for the 8th time in 10 games played against Michigan. A handful of turnovers and penalties are partly are to blame for the Wolverines’ ultimate defeat as John O’Korn took to the field as quarterback, taking over for the injured Wilton Speight, and throwing for three costly interceptions in the second half. "When we got the momentum going, we turned it over," Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh said.
Michigan’s only touchdown came in the third quarter with a 1-yard run from Khalid Hill. Nonetheless, Michigan State, who walked away with the coveted Paul Bunyan trophy, will face off with Minnesota next while Michigan will hit the road to play Indiana.