Washington Redskins players have not been given a mandate by the team’s front office or ownership to stand during the national anthem, according to multiple people with knowledge of the situation.
Before Washington’s Sept. 24 home game against the Oakland Raiders, several Redskins players knelt for the anthem, while members of the front office and team owner Daniel Snyder joined players on the sideline, linking arms and presenting a united front in response to comments from President Trump that NFL owners should fire or suspend players who did not stand for the anthem. A week later, Washington’s players all stood along the sideline in Kansas City before a game against the Chiefs.
Multiple people within the organization said the idea that players were ordered to stand in that game, or any game this season, was false. That belief was tweeted by Shaun King, who has been considered a civil rights activist and previously wrote for the New York Daily News as its “senior justice writer.”
Redskins players made a collective choice to stand for the Kansas City game, multiple people said. The decision was the result of a meeting the players had the night before the game in which they expressed how they felt about the current events in society, including Trump’s actions in recent weeks. The open-forum setting was viewed as a productive step to allow anyone in the locker to speak their mind.
The following morning, word spread about the Las Vegas shooting, in which 59 people were killed and more than 500 others were injured. One person within the organization mentioned that this also played a factor in the team’s decision, since it would be the first football game played since the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
The Redskins intend to go with a week-to-week approach regarding how they handle the anthem. They haven’t had a discussion yet about what they will do for Sunday’s home game against the San Francisco 49ers, their first since their Week 5 bye, but multiple people emphasized that the decision is in the players’ hands.
The approach stands in contrast to the Dallas Cowboys, as owner Jerry Jones stated following Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers that “players disrespecting the flag” won’t play.
Over the past month, there have been more Redskins players who have been vocal about social and societal issues. Following the Raiders game last month, cornerback Josh Norman and tight end Vernon Davis were both critical of Trump, who suggested that NFL owners should fire players that protest during the anthem and collectively called those players a “son of a bitch.” The Redskins demonstrated as players, coaches, front-office personnel and Snyder all locked arms on the sideline during the anthem. Seven players — tight ends Jordan Reed and Niles Paul, wide receivers Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson and Brian Quick, and outside linebackers Ryan Anderson and Chris Carter — all knelt during the anthem.
Since then, Norman pledged to donate $100,000 to help assist the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. Wide receiver Terrelle Pryor Sr. expressed how he was called the n-word “several times” at Arrowhead Stadium after a video was released of Pryor flipping off a fan as he walked into the tunnel. The NFL said it was looking into the matter.
Pryor wasn’t in the locker room following Monday’s practice, but he posted Wednesday on Instagram Story that, “I choose not to kneel because as a team we decided to be one and stand.”
Before Trump called out NFL players, nobody in the Redskins’ locker room spoke out publicly on social issues. When Colin Kaepernick initially took a knee during the anthem in August 2016 to protest police brutality and racial inequality, four Redskins players raised their firsts during the anthem before a Week 3 contest against the New York Giants on Sept. 25. A month later, 27 players met with high-ranking police officials in the D.C. area to begin a dialogue about police brutality, but the Redskins had been a fairly quiet group until Trump spoke out.
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