Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, following the lead of his college teammate, kneeled during the national anthem before the NFL’s kickoff opener Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers.
Marshall went to the University of Nevada where he was a teammate of Colin Kaepernick, the San Francisco 49ers quarterback who sat, then kneeled during anthems at two exhibitions. He said he did so to protest the treatment of African Americans by police.
Before Denver hosted the Rams in an exhibition, Marshall told the Denver Post he supported his former college teammate.
“I support Colin. I support ‘Kaep.’ I understand where he’s coming from,” Marshall told the newspaper. “I definitely see what he’s saying. I support him on that. I’m not mad at him for that. Some people are bashing him on the Internet, but I’m not bashing him at all. I support him.
“Kaep, he’s using his platform how he wants to use it, to reach the masses. We have freedom of speech. But then we use our platform, and we get bashed for it. It’s almost like they want us to only go with the grain. And once we go against the grain, it’s an issue. I feel for Kaep. I understand where he’s coming from, and I support him.”
The Broncos formed a long, straight line for the anthem, and Marshall was kneeling at one end.
“While we encourage members of our organization to stand during the National Anthem, we understand and respect it being a personal decision,” the Broncos said in a statement.
In the wake of Kaepernick’s protest, Seattle cornerback Jeremy Lane sat through an anthem.
Kaepernick initially sat through an anthem, then kneeled through one the following game and was joined by teammate Eric Reid.
Soccer standout Megan Rapinoe joined the protest, refusing to stand for the anthem before a Seattle Reign game in the National Women’s Soccer League.