BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots’ Martellus Bennett and Devin McCourty each raised their right fists in the air after the conclusion of the National Anthem before Sunday’s game between the Patriots and Arizona Cardinals. No player demonstrated in any way during the performance.
When asked after the game about the pregame demonstration, McCourty offered an explanation why he waited until after the anthem was over.
“Around the NFL, a lot of guys are doing different things,” said McCourty. “We’ve talked as players throughout the league trying to make change in our communities one by one using our platform, not just doing it on Sundays and game days. We’ve talked about different things we’re going to try to do to help the country and help our communities out.
“Today I wore socks with the American flag,” McCourty continued. “I believe in this country. I love this country. My father was in the Army. My older brother was in the Army. Those men and women do out there and put their life on the line. I respect that. That’s the reason why I didn’t do anything during the anthem because I respect it. You talk to people about how much respect they have for the flag. That’s why they believe. That’s why they go fight. Nothing but respect for that.”
Bennett was reportedly part of a large group text message between 70-plus NFL players, including San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has started a trend after sitting and kneeling during the National Anthem in protest of police brutality.
The group reportedly also included Bennett’s brother Michael and Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks and Arian Foster of the Miami Dolphins. The Seahawks stood with their arms interlocked during the National Anthem before their game against the Dolphins, while Foster and a few of his Dolphins teammates knelt on the ground.
Kaepernick and the 49ers kick off their regular season on Monday Night Football against the Los Angeles Rams at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.