Marshawn Lynch is known for not caring about what most people think of him. We’ll see how strong that character trait is in the coming days.
The Oakland Raiders running back made headlines despite not actually playing in the team’s first preseason game versus the Arizona Cardinals by sitting on a cooler during the singing of the National Anthem, almost a year since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick protested police brutality by doing the same.
While known for being closed off from the public eye, Lynch has expressed solidarity to social causes in the past, and voiced his support for Kaepernick’s protest during an interview with Conan O’Brien in 2016.
“With what’s going on, I’d rather see him take a knee than stand up, put his hands up and get murdered,” Lynch said. “So my take on it is s— has to start somewhere, and if that was the starting point, I just hope people open up their eyes to see that there’s really a problem going on, and something needs to be done for it to stop. And if you’re really not racist then you won’t see what he’s doing as a threat to America, but just addressing a problem that we have.”
Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio had a slightly different response to Kaepernick’s actions during the same period, stating during a press conference last year that he felt players standing during the anthem was “always understood.” However, Del Rio clarified to the media after yesterday’s game that he and Lynch discussed the latter’s decision afterwards in the locker room, giving his player a loose amount of leeway.
“[Lynch] said, ‘This is something I’ve done for 11 years, it’s not a form of anything other than me being myself.’ I said, ‘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 and we’ll do ours. So, that’s a non-issue for me,” Del Rio said.
If anyone can handle increased attention from the press and football fans, it’s the always surly Lynch. However, it should be noted that the majority of the players who sat or kneeled during the anthem last season have gone back to standing; Kaepernick, who remains unsigned, has said he will do the same once he joins a team. It’ll be interesting to see if Lynch decides to make his own protest long-term or a one time deal.