ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall was prepared to focus solely on football this season. Yet, after the recent racially charged conflict in Charlottesville, Virginia, he said he’s considering reviving his take-a-knee protest during the national anthem.
Marshall was one of the first NFL players last year to follow the lead of Colin Kaepernick, his teammate at the University of Nevada, to protest social injustice by kneeling during the “Star Spangled Banner.”
As a result, Marshall encountered death threats, hate mail and a loss of endorsements but also was credited with spurring a change in the use-of-force policy by the Denver Police Department before ending his kneel-downs after a month and a half.
No Broncos have protested before their two preseason games so far, but Marshall indicated this week that several players are considering doing so prior to kickoff Saturday night against Green Bay.
Asked Thursday what he would hope to accomplish by taking a knee again, Marshall said, “I’m still thinking about that, honestly. I haven’t come up with it.”
Several players on other teams have knelt during the anthem this month in the wake of the unrest in Virginia.
Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett implored white players to join the movement. On Monday night, there were two white players among a dozen Cleveland Browns who circled up and took a knee during the anthem before their game against the Giants while others stood behind them with their hands on their shoulders in a show of support.
The protest was the largest so far in a social-consciousness movement started last season by Kaepernick, who became a polarizing figure for kneeling during the anthem and is currently out of the NFL. In recent days, Bennett and Philadelphia defensive back Malcolm Jenkins also have called attention to what they feel is racial injustice in the country.
Oakland running back Marshawn Lynch has also sat during the national anthem in the preseason, but hasn’t elaborated on his reasoning.
In the last week, Broncos general manager John Elway and Denver coach Vance Joseph have said they’re OK with their players protesting so long as it doesn’t detract from football. Elway added he was “proud of Brandon” for backing up his anthem protests last year with action in his community.
Marshall received the 2017 Courage Award from the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Alumni of Color for his stance against social injustice, his discussions with the Denver police and his charity work.
He said he feels anyone protesting this year also needs to lend a hand in their community.
“So as long as people are actually doing something while they’re protesting, I think it’s beautiful,” Marshall said, “and I think it could actually have a huge impact.”
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