Marshawn Lynch of the Oakland Raiders hasn’t taken the field since 2015. Most people remember him for munching Skittles on the sidelines and for “Beast Mode” plays on the field.
However, now he will be remembered for something else.
On Saturday night, prior to the Raiders preseason tilt against the Arizona Cardinals, Marshawn Lynch sat on the bench during the playing of the national anthem. Sitting on the bench during the preseason, as opposed to kneeling, is also how Colin Kaepernick began his anthem protest last year.
Raiders Coach Jack Del Rio doesn’t approve of Lynch’s actions, but doesn’t plan to take any action to stop him.
“I’m going to respect you as a man. You do your thing and we’ll do ours,” Del Rio said he told, Lynch.
It is noteworthy however, that Del Rio used words like ‘you,’ and ‘we.’ Clearly drawing a line and a division between Lynch and the rest of the squad when it comes to the issue of protest. While that may not have been Del Rio’s intent, that’s a far cry from some of the more supportive rhetoric the 49ers gave Colin Kaepernick when he began his protest.
Moreover, Kaepernick at least delivered a statement, a dumb statement to be sure, but a statement nonetheless. Articulating his reasons for kneeling in protest and what he hoped his protests would accomplish. In Lynch’s case, according to the AP, he left the locker room before the reporters arrived.
So, what is he going to do? Just protest without saying anything? Then leaving it to your head coach and teammates to tell the media what they think of you?
Del Rio said he spoke with his new running back about his protest, and Lynch told him, “He said, ‘This is something I’ve done for 11 years. It’s not a form of anything other than me being myself.’”
Some credit should be given to Lynch for having the decency to say it’s all about himself upfront, instead of pretending that he’s benefitting some greater cause.
Del Rio told reporters his response to Lynch in that conversation, “just so you understand how I feel, I very strongly believe in standing for the national anthem but I’m going to respect you as a man. You do your thing.
“So that’s a non-issue for me,” Del Rio said.”
It may not be an issue for Del Rio, but, once again, it’s a big issue for the NFL.