Seattle, WA – On the NFL’s opening weekend the Seattle Seahawks are planning to become the first team to join Colin Kaepernick’s silent protest during the national anthem. Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin took to social media yesterday to confirm speculation that the team will be engaging in some type of unified display during the national anthem — but left people guessing as to the details.
To express a desire to bring people together, our team will honor the country and flag in a pregame demonstration of unity.
— Doug Baldwin Jr (@DougBaldwinJr) September 8, 2016
The Seahawks reportedly have a “big surprise” planned during the national anthem for their home opener on Sunday, according to starting linebacker Bobby Wagner. Wagner noted that this would be a team protest, but didn’t specify the exact nature of the surprise.
“Anything we want to do, it’s not going to be individual. It’s going to be a team thing. That’s what the world needs to see. The world needs to see people coming together versus being individuals,” Wagner told the Seattle Times.
Head coach Pete Carroll is reported to stand behind his players’ decision. Carroll previously came to the defense of cornerback Jeremy Lane who sat during the nation anthem last Thursday before Seattle’s final preseason game against the Oakland Raiders. Lane sat in an effort to show solidarity with the sentiments expressed by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
“[Lane]’s pretty clear on what he did and what he was trying to express and I think it is very simple and so we’ll leave that up to him,” Carroll told the Times.
Baldwin began to express his support for Kaepernick’s bold stance on social media after the San Francisco 49ers QB began receiving blowback for refusing to stand for the national anthem. Baldwin defended the principled protest and cast Kaepernick’s critics as ignorant of what free speech entails.
We honor those who fight for our right to freedom of speech and then condemn those who exercise that right?
— Doug Baldwin Jr (@DougBaldwinJr) September 2, 2016
Asked about the team’s plans, Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin said repeatedly, “You’ll see on Sunday.”
Nate Boyer, a former Green Beret who spent last summer with the Seahawks, has been in contact with the team about its plans, according to ESPN. During an appearance on Fox Sports Radio, Boyer offered more details about the team’s thinking.
“It has to be a team-first approach in order to get anything done,” Boyer said. “Whether it is [Colin] Kaepernick’s mission-changing policy or changing things on the field, you have to be unified. Showing a common goal between different walks of life is how you influence change.
“I spoke with the players, and they realize that 9/11 is a very important day in our nation’s history. The Seahawks, and probably every team, will be honoring those who serve in camouflage and also those in blue who served on such a difficult day. Shortly after 9/11, our country seemed more unified than I had ever experienced and was the most unified it has been since I have been alive. Since that date, we have grown farther apart in our unity. Standing together this Sunday is key to making progress. What the team will do is a powerful sign of unification.
“In fact, that is how the Seahawks have been so successful on the field as well — I saw it first-hand. They place so much emphasis on competition within the team and making each other better. That is crucial to the success in any mission. Whether it is a firefight, on a football field or changing society.”
To change the status quo you have to upset the status quo. Not by going with the flow.
You have to stand/sit for what you believe in.
— Doug Baldwin Jr (@DougBaldwinJr) September 2, 2016
During the opening NFL game on Thursday night between Carolina and Denver, the Broncos Brandon Marshall knelt during the national anthem — a move the Broncos said they “understand and respect” as a personal decision.
According to a report by ESPN:
Boyer also met with Kaepernick earlier this month to discuss his protest and was instrumental in persuading the San Francisco 49ers quarterback to kneel — instead of sitting — during the national anthem. Boyer stood on the sideline while Kaepernick and teammate Eric Reid knelt during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the 49ers’ final preseason game against the San Diego Chargers on Sept. 1.
On Wednesday, Baldwin and defensive end Cliff Avril said they supported Kaepernick and were thinking about staging some kind of protest.
“My grandfather being in the military, it hit home for me as well,” Baldwin said. “It’s the veterans. That’s more heartening to me than anything. It’s the veterans that have reached out and said that that’s what they fought for. That’s what they sacrificed their lives for was to give people back home under the flag, under the country, the opportunity to stand up or sit for what they believe in. So that was very heartening for me to hear that and that response from the veterans.”
Added Avril: “I truly respect what Kaep is doing. I think some people are taking it out of context because they’re not experiencing the same thing other people are experiencing. They can’t really see it. But as a person that does see it and does see what’s really going on out here, I definitely could see me doing something about it as well.”
While some American see the protest as disrespectful to the military, or the United States itself, the idea of being free to engage in political protest – even ones that some people find offensive – is the very ideal of liberty and freedom that America purports to represent.
Whether you agree with the forms of protest used by these men, or their utilization of their stardom to bring attention to a cause – the path to non-violent societal evolution directly intersects with the sentiments expressed by these athletes. They have all been willing to endanger their own marketability, and potential livelihood, for a cause they believe is greater than themselves – and that is truly admirable whether you agree with them or not.