Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch opted to sit during the playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Saturday’s preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals, making him the latest pro athlete to protest racism and police brutality by not standing during the national anthem.
The NFL player, in his first game since coming out of retirement, was photographed sitting on top of an orange cooler holding a banana as the song played.
While Lynch did not speak about his decision not to stand, Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said he spoke with the running back.
“Talked to Marshawn. Wanted to make sure we’re on the same page,” Del Rio told reporters, according to The Mercury News. “He said, ‘This is something I’ve done for 11 years. It’s not a form of anything other than me being myself.’
“I said, ‘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, OK?’ So that’s a non-issue for me.”
Rodger Sherman of The Ringer shared a collection of angry tweets directed at Lynch for sitting during the national anthem before the Seahawks’ playoff game against the Panthers in January 2016.
However, Internet sleuths were quick to do some research and find evidence of Lynch, 31, standing for the national anthem at other times.
The Raiders lost 20-10 to the Cardinals, and Lynch did not play on Saturday.
“I’d rather see him take a knee than stand up, put his hands up and get murdered,” Lynch said. “My take on it is, s—, it got to start somewhere and if that was the starting point, I just hope people open up their eyes and see that it’s really a problem going on and something needs to be done for it to stop. If you really not racist, then you won’t see what [Kaepernick is] doing as a threat to America, but just addressing a problem that we have.”