Before today, Jack Del Rio and Raiders owner Mark Davis were in agreement with regard to Anthem protests — they were opposed to them. Del Rio wanted his players to stand and Davis preferred they keep any protests they have to not be when they were wearing a Raiders uniform.
All of that changed Friday. Donald Trump shouted to a cheering crowd at a rally in Alabama that players kneeling for the National Anthem should be fired and to “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now!”
It’s not only way out of line for a man holding the office of the president to make a statement like that, calling for the jobs of private citizens, but it serves to shine a glaring light on the very problems many of these players have been protesting all along. Especially when his harshest words are reserved for black men in peaceful protest while those marching with torches for the cause of white supremacy and retaining confederate monuments are dubbed “very fine people.”
Every team in the NFL did some form of Anthem demonstration during the day leading up the game and the Raiders did as well. With the blessing of their owner and the support of their head coach.
“I love that group of men,” said Del Rio. “I respect that group of men. We’re unified and there’s some guys that feel strongly about taking a stance and I think over the last several days that became apparent that there’s nothing wrong with expressing yourself in a peaceful manner like they’ve done. So, we chose to be unified.”
Nearly the entire team sat with their arms locked during the anthem. Others kneeled. Some chose to stand. But that was not how the Raiders originally wanted this to go. Del Rio wanted to take a page out of the Steelers book and keep the team in the locker room for the Anthem. That’s how it was done back when Del Rio played and how it continued to be done up until 2009.
“If they didn’t have the kickoff so close to the anthem, we probably would’ve stayed in instead of going out,” Del Rio continued. “But that’s the way we handled it.”
The question is if the whole confusion of it all along with some players choosing not to sit and so forth had any affect on how the team played (which was terrible). Del Rio insisted it didn’t, but that Washington simply outplayed them.