Several fans at the Baltimore Ravens game gave their opinion on San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick decision to sit or kneel during the National Anthem. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun Video)
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's decision to take a seat and then kneel during the playing of the national anthem in the preseason inspired others in the NFL to protest the treatment of people of color during the opening weekend of the regular season.
The Ravens, however, refrained from getting involved. While acknowledging that each player has the right to do what he chooses, wide receivers Steve Smith Sr. and Mike Wallace said the team did not discuss staging its own protest.
"You know, here's the thing about the protests," Smith said after a 13-7 win Sunday against the Buffalo Bills at M&T Bank Stadium. "Each individual has their right to do what they choose to do. That's what those people chose to do. So I think they have that right. Did you see anybody protesting any of that stuff here? No. So, for me, honestly, just where I stand is, I have to speak to a man privately before I can stand with any man publicly. I haven't had any private conversations with individuals about it, so there's nothing to discuss."
Said Wallace: "Personally, I feel like, 'To each his own.' Everybody has different things that they believe in, and if you feel like you need to do that, do it. This is America, the land of the free. You can do that if you want to, and I don't think anybody should have a problem with it, because we're free. We can do whatever we want. If you want to go that route, you can go that route. If you want to just stand there and do it, do it. I represent the people. I'm with everybody. Positivity, I'm just all about positivity."
On Sunday, the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters raised a black-gloved fist during the national anthem. Four Miami Dolphins — running back Arian Foster, linebacker Jelani Jenkins, wide receiver Kenny Stills and safety Michael Thomas — kneeled on the sideline with hands on their hearts during the anthem. A pair of New England Patriots players, tight end Martellus Bennett and safety Devin McCourty, held their right arms.
No Ravens or Bills players participated in similar gestures. In fact, Ravens defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan expressed pride in being able to recognize the anniversary of Sept. 11.
"It definitely means a lot to be a part of that with all that's going on in the country right now," he said. "I wore my USA Basketball warmups to the game today with the American flag on the sleeve. I'm proud of that. It's one of my favorite outfits and was appropriate today."