With the final week of the NFL regular season officially over, it’s interesting to note how many players were still protesting the national anthem.
In September, shortly after President Donald Trump ripped NFL players who protest the anthem, it seemed like most of the league was staging some sort of demonstration during the national anthem.
By the time Week 17 began, the number of anthem protesters left was documented at 22.
Ten players on the Seattle Seahawks, including Michael Bennett, either sat or knelt during the anthem. Four San Francisco 49ers, including Eric Reid, knelt during the anthem. Three Miami Dolphins knelt for the anthem. A smattering of other players, including the Oakland Raiders’ Marshawn Lynch, chose to sit, kneel or raise a fist during the national anthem.
As for the NFL players still channeling free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick and taking a knee in protest, only seven are left.
And their dwindling numbers are not lost on them.
Bleacher Report spoke to the seven remaining anthem protesters, and they all said they believe their careers could be adversely affected by their actions.
“There will have to be another wave of players to carry the torch, because they’re going to try to get rid of us,” Dolphins safety Michael Thomas told Bleacher Report.
“I just wanted [to] be a voice for the voiceless. I knew I’d get a lot of backlash for it, but I didn’t care,” 49ers linebacker Eli Harold said.
Harold seemed emboldened, if anything, by the backlash he’s received.
“It’s made me believe more that everyone in the world should have an equal opportunity to openly protest, say whatever they want to say when they say it,” he said.
49ers receiver Marquise Goodwin said he initially was hesitant to kneel.
“I tried to avoid kneeling, just because a lot of people who didn’t understand felt like it was disrespecting the country,” Goodwin said. “But that wasn’t the case, and it’s still not the case.”
Goodwin first began kneeling after Trump’s comments in September.
Reid, who was the first player to kneel alongside Kaepernick in 2016, said his career could be over due to his protests.
“I would say I understand [that not getting a job due to protesting is] a possibility. And I’m completely fine with it. The things that I’ve done, I stand by, and I’ve done that for my own personal beliefs. Like I said, I’m fine with whatever outcome happens because of that,” Reid told ESPN.
Reid, Goodwin, Harold, Kenny Stills, Olivier Vernon, Duane Brown and Julius Thomas are the remaining kneelers in the league. Vernon is the only recent All-Pro selection among them.
Several players decided to stop protesting the national anthem after the NFL offered the Players Coalition $89 million to go toward projects dealing with criminal justice reform, law enforcement/community relations and education.
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