Before taking on the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, Oakland Raiders linebackers Bruce Irvin and Malcolm Smith joined the national anthem protest by raising their fists in the air. While Smith didn't intend to disrespect the police or military, he's in support of "getting a conversation started," especially after witnessing an incident occur in the stands.
"I’ve talked about it, I’ve thought about it, but I wasn’t going to do it until I saw a little girl in the stands try to put her fist up and her mom slapped her hand down," Smith told the San Francisco Chronicle. "I just felt like you’ve got a voice, you should be able to use it no matter the circumstances. You’ve got a point of view, you should be able to use it."
Following the game, Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio told reporters that he would've preferred if Irvin and Smith approached him beforehand with their decision, adding, "I would just like to see us as a team do things together and united.” Even though Del Rio was supportive of their decision, wide receiver Michael Crabtree couldn't have been more opposed to their stance. “I just play football. I ain’t no Martin Luther King,” Crabtree said. "I’ve let it be known I don’t have anything to do with him. I’m a Raider."
Everyone isn't expected to support or join in on their national anthem protest. Next time, a simple "no comment" would be suffice.
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