Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch sat during the National Anthem prior to the Raiders 20-10 preseason loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Various media outlets are assuming the act was a form of silent protest, presumably because former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick similarly sat during the National Anthem in an August 2016 game.
Fans and critics took note of Lynch’s refusal to stand, with many assuming it was in response to the white nationalist rally and subsequent violent attacks in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Marshawn Lynch beent a real one ✊🏿 pic.twitter.com/DJ72r6tDkF— Legends (@LegendsofCH) August 13, 2017
Shout out to Marshawn Lynch.. Every single Black athlete should be sitting during the national anthem based on the nazism on display today https://t.co/WFpWikAXMc— Tariq Nasheed (@tariqnasheed) August 13, 2017
If the racist/terrorist acts in #Charlottesville didn't bother you but Marshawn Lynch sitting during the anthem does, guess what you are...— Margarita Hernandez (@Mhernandez287) August 13, 2017
Guess what America? Marshawn Lynch doesn't give a f*ck what you think! pic.twitter.com/Zc53Mw5x14— Derenic Byrd (@DerenicByrd) August 13, 2017
Lynch remaining seated does not appear to be an issue for the Raiders at this time based on postgame comments ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez relayed from Raiders coach Jack Del Rio. Gutierrez wrote the following regarding an exchange between Del Rio and Lynch:
“[Lynch] said, ‘This is something I’ve done for 11 years. It’s not a form of anything other than me being myself,’” Del Rio said. “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.”
Kaepernick eventually made the compromise to kneel during the anthem after being accused of disrespecting members of the armed forces by his decision to sit during the anthem. When initially questioned about his refusal to stand for the anthem, Kaepernick said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
Other players joined Kaepernick in solidarity with acts such as raising their fists and kneeling, however, Kaepernick remains unsigned with at least two teams citing a fear of angering their fans by signing Kaepernick.
In April, the Raiders and Seattle Seahawks finalized a deal to send the then-retired Lynch to Oakland via trade. The Superbowl-winning running back rose to fame during a run of four consecutive seasons with 1,200 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns in 2011, but he also became known for a reluctance to engage with media members or grant interviews.