The NFL season reached the quarter-pole Thursday night, with the Green Bay Packers taking the story of player demonstrations during the national anthem into the new week. The Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints continued things Sunday morning, with the Saints collectively taking a knee before their game in London, before rising and linking arms for the singing of the national anthem. Meanwhile, three members of the Dolphins, tight end Julius Thomas, safety Michael Thomas and wide receiver Kenny Stills, continued to kneel during the anthem, performed by Darius Rucker.
It may be one of the few anthem scenes shown Sunday, at least during Fox's NFL coverage. The network planned to to revert to the usual practice of selling that time to advertisers. The anthem is typically only shown on telecasts on the Thursday night kickoff game and before the Super Bowl.
"The standard procedure is not to show them because of the way the commercial format works and the timing of the anthem to get to the kickoff," Fox Sports President Eric Shanks said (via Newsday) Tuesday. "So I think we're going to pay attention to events."
President Donald Trump continued to tweet at NFL players over the anthem, writing Saturday night: "Very important that NFL players STAND tomorrow, and always, for the playing of our National Anthem. Respect our Flag and our Country!"
On Thursday night, in the first game since the Dallas Cowboys, along with owner Jerry Jones and staff, took a knee and then rose for the anthem before the Monday night game, the reactions in Green Bay's Lambeau Field was mixed.
The Packers had asked fans to join them in linking arms in a show of unity before the game against Chicago and some fans chanted "USA!" before the song began. During it, some fans booed. It was a scene that left Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and other players thinking that perhaps their message of protest against police brutality and social injustice was erroneously being tied to the flag and the military.
"The messaging of this unfortunately needs to continue to be redirected, I think," Rodgers said. "It's never been about the national anthem. It's never been about the military. We're all patriotic in the locker room. We love our troops. This is about something bigger than that - an invitation to show unity in the face of some divisiveness from the top in this country. And I'm proud of our guys. This has been a galvanizing situation for us. ... (A)s much as some people want us to just shut up and play football and keep the politics to the politics, sports and politics have always intersected. And if we can help continue a conversation through demonstration of unity ... I think that's a good thing.
"We could hear some USA chants as it started, which is fantastic. Could also hear some negativity being yelled during the anthem. Semantics there, right? What's disrespectful to the anthem? Yelling things during it or standing at attention with arms locked, facing the flag? That's for you to decide."
On Friday, the Seattle Seahawks announced that they would channel their protest into the Seahawks Players Equality and Justice for All Action Fund, which players said would support education and leadership programs addressing equality and justice.