NFL race protest in London


It was over 13 months ago, that quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during an NFL football game, protesting race and police brutality, and stating, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour.”

Up until this past Sunday, this issue had largely been between Kaepernick and the NFL owners who have all chosen not to sign Kaepernick to any contract and has since been inactive. But this past weekend, President Trump unleashed a series of tweets that opened the door to backlash from teams and players across the NFL. It also reopened debate throughout the U.S over the freedom to protest and the question of respect towards the nation’s flag and its national anthem.

If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL,or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect....

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 23 September 2017

...our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU'RE FIRED. Find something else to do!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 23 September 2017

Following those series of tweets, the NFL commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement reacting to the President’s tweet stating: “Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players”.

Across social media the hash tag, #TakeAKnee became the #1 U.S trend with millions expressing support for the players and anger towards the President.

The first stage of the protest on Sunday didn’t happen in the U.S, but here in London, at Wembley stadium where the Jacksonville Jaguars were facing the Baltimore Ravens. There, 25 players from the Jacksonville and Baltimore Ravens knelt. While no white players appeared to be kneeling, many of the other players, and also the Jaguars’ owner Shahid Khan linked arms to show unity for their black teammates against the President.

The #TakeAKnee movement would expand across all NFL games on Sunday, where about 200 players sat, knelt, or raised their fists in defiance. Three teams, the Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans, and Pittsburgh Steelers stayed in their locker rooms during the national anthem. The remaining NFL players on Sunday locked arms with their teammates and coaches in a show of solidarity.

This past weekend’s protest shed further light on the growing divisions between Americans when it comes to race relations, protesting, and patriotism. All these issues have now been wrapped up into America’s most popular sport both on and off the field.

By Zak Ott, OBV Intern