One week after two Seattle athletes didn’t stand for national anthem, Seahawk Doug Baldwin hinted we could see more players follow suit.
When asked at the Seahawks’ press conference if he has considered joining in the anthem protest, Baldwin said he had.
“I want to make sure I get all of my ducks in a row before I do so,” Baldwin said.
49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick spurred the wave of anthem protesters. Kaepernick refused to stand for the anthem during San Francisco’s preseason games, because he didn’t want to “stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color.”
Then Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane sat alone on the Seahawks’ bench during the national anthem before Thursday’s preseason game against the Raiders. Over the weekend, Seattle Reign star Megan Rapinoe kneeled during the anthem before a match in Chicago.
However, the anthem protest has drawn criticism from the public and other sports figures as disrespectful.
Sunday’s Seahawks season opener against the Dolphins also happens to fall on September 11, which Baldwin said would be on the top of his mind.
“The point is, or the protest is, to get people to think,” Baldwin said. “It’s very ironic to me that 15 years ago on September 11th, one of the most devastating times in U.S. history, and after that day we were probably the most unified we’ve ever been. Today you struggle to see the unity, and it’s very ironic to me that this date is coming up.”
After Lane’s protest, Baldwin said there wasn’t any team pressure to fall one way or another on the issue.
“Some of us will agree, but at the same time we give each other slack, because we know we’re all human beings,” Baldwin said.
Meanwhile, Seattle NAACP leaders are weighing in on the issue for the first time, saying they're proud that Kaepernick decided to take a stand by refusing to stand up for the anthem.
"His message is saying that we live in a country that is oppressing our people and we have an opportunity to address it and deal with it and we have not for over a hundred years - the NAACP has been fighting for this, so his message is trying to convey that," said Gerald Hankerson, who is the President of the Seattle chapter of the NAACP.
Hankerson strongly feels it's not about being anti-American. Instead, he says the anthem protest is about bringing attention to racial injustice. Kaepernick has said the same.
"Patriotism is when you stand up against a system that oppresses other people and are willing to talk about it and not fear retaliation and retribution. That's true patriotism to me," said Hankerson.
Hankerson said he would really like to see other professional athletes follow Kaepernick's lead, and he thinks Seattle is the perfect city for that to happen.
"If it can happen anywhere, it can happen in Seattle," said Hankerson. "That's activism. One person takes a stand, you look for others to stand behind you. I'm excited about this. I just wish there were more people doing what Kaepernick is doing."
So will the Seahawks be the team to expand the national anthem protest?
“Our locker room has discussed it, so we’ll see,” Baldwin said.