BOSTON (CBS) — Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protests have sparked a larger movement across the NFL as the league enters the 2017 season. There’s a chance it could extend to players on the Patriots – and if it does, you’ll get your first glimpse at it on national TV during the season opener.
According to The Sporting News’ Michael McCarthy, NBC plans to televise the national anthem before the Patriots’ season-opening game against the Chiefs at Gillette Stadium on Sept. 7. It’s not unusual for the NFL’s nationally televised season opener to air the national anthem, but an NBC rep made it clear that the network will not shy away from covering any protests that occur during the performance.
“As in the past, we will televise the national anthem for select games, including the NFL Kickoff game and the Super Bowl, and, like last year, will cover activity around the anthem as news merits,” said NBC spokesman Dan Masonson.
National anthem protests have picked up steam during the 2017 preseason. The Cleveland Browns recently made the biggest demonstration yet as more than 10 players kneeled during the anthem, including former Patriots linebacker Jamie Collins.
The Seahawks’ Michael Bennett, brother of former Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett, also protested as he sat down during the national anthem before a preseason game last weekend:
Another former Patriot showing support for the national anthem protests is Chris Long, who put his arm around Eagles teammate Malcolm Jenkins as the cornerback raised his fist in the air. The Rams’ Robert Quinn, the Raiders’ Khalil Mack and Derek Carr, and the Bills’ Cameron Jefferson are also among those who recently protested the national anthem before games.
Kaepernick, who started the movement before the start of the 2016 season as a way to protest against police brutality and racial injustice, remains without a job with the start of the 2017 NFL season weeks away.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell recently supported players’ rights to protest the national anthem, saying: “It’s one of those things where I think we have to understand that there are people that have different viewpoints. … The national anthem is a special moment to me. It’s a point of pride. But we also have to understand the other side, that people do have rights and we want to respect those.”
Patriots safety Devin McCourty raised his own fist in the air, along with Martellus Bennett, after the conclusion of the national anthem before the Patriots’ 2016 season-opening win over the Arizona Cardinals. Receiver Danny Amendola stood and held the American flag during the same anthem.
McCourty said recently that he’s considering joining the growing movement, especially after he saw his twin brother Jason taking part with the Browns.
“I saw my brother was in it, so I got to talk to him a little bit about what they were doing,” McCourty told reporters on Tuesday.
On whether or not he would do his own form of national anthem protest, McCourty said: “I don’t know, we’ll see … I know I’ve thought about it, how to get involved, how to help. But we’ll see.”
There is no public indication that any Chiefs players plan to protest the national anthem before the season opener. But if they do, you can be sure that the NBC cameras will be rolling.