Any NFL executives hoping that the national-anthem protests would fade away after two weeks of declining player participation saw their dreams dashed at Sunday’s games.
The take-a-knee protests rebounded in Week 12 as 19 players refused to stand for the national anthem, up from just five last week and following two weeks of single-digit protesters as teams held ceremonies honoring veterans.
Making the difference were the Seattle Seahawks, which saw 11 players sit or take a knee Sunday after two weeks in which all the players stood for “The Star-Spangled Banner” in recognition of Salute to Service games recognizing the military.
— MIKE FERRERI (@MikeKOMOsports) November 26, 2017
With the Salute to Service month over, however, it appears that the Seahawks contingent, led by defensive end Michael Bennett, are prepared to continue their protest for the rest of the season, “pending a new reason to change course,” said Derek Lewis of 247Sports.
The San Francisco 49ers, the NFL’s second-most activist team, had three players take a knee in their game against the Seahawks.
Other teams saw no change. As they have done nearly all season, three Miami Dolphins and New York Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon knelt for the anthem, while Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch sat on the bench, according to the ESPN tally.
Lynch drew a Twitter blast last week from President Trump for sitting during “The Star-Spangled Banner” and standing for the Mexico national anthem before a game played in Mexico City.
The protests have stoked fan outrage and contributed to declining ratings. The Thursday night game on Thanksgiving between the Giants and Washington Redskins saw a 10 percent decline from last year’s game, according to Deadline Hollywood.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said he would like to see all players stand for the national anthem, but declined to push the issue at an October meeting between owners and players.
The protests began last season as a statement against the deaths of black men at the hands of police, led by former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, a free agent who has filed a grievance with the league alleging collusion after going unsigned in the 2017 season.
The team owners are scheduled to meet this week in New York ahead of the full Dec. 13 ownership meeting amid debate over Mr. Goodell’s contract.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who has insisted that his players stand for the anthem, has pushed to delay approval of the five-year contract extension, pointing out that the commissioner still has nearly 18 moths on his current contract.
“We’ve got all the time in the world to evaluate what we’re doing,” Mr. Jones told 105.3 The Fan in Dallas. “We’ve got all the time in the world to extend him. We need to slow this train down and have a lot of time to discuss the issues at hand in the NFL and have a good, clear input from all the owners, which we’re not getting.”
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