On Thursday the NFL launched the start of its new season, and with it, a bit of controversy as the Denver Broncos' starting linebacker, Brandon Marshall, took a knee during the national anthem.
Before the Broncos took on the Carolina Panthers, Marshall knelt during the national anthem and stayed that way until the song concluded. The move comes on the heels of backup San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's preseason protest against over-policing in black communities.
After the game, Marshall, a college teammate of Kaepernick's at Nevada, told the press, "I'm not against the military, police or America. I'm against social injustice," ESPN reports. Marshall added that he "felt it was the right thing to do" and that he will continue to kneel during the anthem this season.
Marshall was the Broncos' second-leading tackler during its Super Bowl run last season. He is also active in the community and has expressed support for Kaepernick's stance against police brutality and social injustice. He believes that this form of silent protest is a great way to keep the dialogue about important issues in the black community alive.
"I think the more people do it, the more it's seen—there's going to be hate mail, hate comments, but at the same time, people will talk about it," he said, ESPN reports. "Some people are going to stand by me, some people aren't. But I know my loved ones, the people that love me and care about me, they're going to stand behind me, and that's all that matters to me.
"A lot of stuff that happened this summer, the police brutality, that sparked a conversation. We can talk all we want, but actions speak louder than words, so when [Kaepernick] took a knee, or sat down, he got people thinking. Then he was able to say everything he felt, everything he meant."
Broncos coach Gary Kubiak noted in preseason that while he wants all his players to stand for the national anthem, he respects their beliefs if they choose not to do so.
"I want our guys to stand for the national anthem. … My dad taught me two things that I believe in strongly. He told me to believe in my values and those types of things in life, and obviously, I believe in our country and the national anthem very strongly," Kubiak said after Kaepernick's protest. "But at the same time, he taught me to respect other people's beliefs and values, so I do that. Our guys do a great job. But I don't baby-sit guys. I let them handle themselves. We tell our guys: 'Be yourself. Be your best self.’”
Read more at ESPN.