NAPA, Calif. (AP) — Marshawn Lynch isn’t shedding anymore light on his decision to sit during the national anthem before the Oakland Raiders’ first exhibition game.
Lynch declined to comment on why he chose to sit down Saturday night while the rest of his teammates stood during the anthem before a game in Arizona against the Cardinals.
That left his teammates to answer for him on Tuesday after the team returned for its first practice since that game.
“I’m proud of him,” tight end Jared Cook said. “I think it’s awesome. Everybody has points of discussion after what happened in Charlottesville just the night before. I think it’s important for men in our position to step up and speak on unnecessary situations we find ourselves in as minorities in this country. That’s why I’m proud of him.”
Cook said he hadn’t talked to Lynch about his stance and didn’t know what specifically he was protesting. Other players who have declined to stand for the anthem have been much more open about their reasons, starting with former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, whose protest last year over police brutality and racial oppression made it a major issue in the NFL.
“We didn’t talk to him,” Cook said. “I don’t know his intentions. I don’t know what he wanted to do by it. But I know that guys like Colin Kaepernick have become my favorite football players for doing it.”
Kaepernick is not on a team this season but the issue remains with Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett and Lynch both sitting for the anthem last weekend.
Bennett has been vocal about his reasons why, citing social injustice. He said his decision was solidified by the violence last weekend surrounding a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that included the death of a young woman who was struck by a car deliberately driven into a group of counter-protesters.
Cook said he has considered an anthem protest in the past and does not rule out doing one this season.
“As far as the future goes, I don’t know. I don’t know,” he said. “I know I feel uneasy about the situation going on in this country and have been for a while.”
Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said last season that players should protest on their own time instead of when they are representing the organization. Del Rio said after the game that Lynch told him he had not stood for the anthem for his entire career and it was a “non-issue” for the coach.
“I pretty much made the statement I care to make on it,” he said Tuesday. “I don’t have anything to add.”
NOTES: WR Amari Cooper returned to practice for the first time since Aug. 3 and DL Khalil Mack was back after missing time last week. … Del Rio said S Keith McGill (foot) and OL Denver Kirkland (knee) will miss some time.
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