Saturday, December 16News That Matters

Dolphins and Saints take NFL national anthem demonstrations to next phase; Trump tweets again



Julius Thomas, Michael Thomas and Kenny Still kneel during the national anthem ahead of the Dolphins’ game against the Saints in London. (Paul Childs/Reuters)

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The NFL season reached the quarter-pole Thursday night, with the Green Bay Packers taking the story of player demonstrations during the national anthem into the new week. The Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints continued things Sunday morning, with the Saints collectively taking a knee before their game in London, before rising and linking arms for the singing of the national anthem. Meanwhile, three members of the Dolphins, tight end Julius Thomas, safety Michael Thomas and wide receiver Kenny Stills, continued to kneel during the anthem, performed by Darius Rucker.

It may be one of the few anthem scenes shown today, at least during Fox’s NFL coverage. The network planned to to revert to the usual practice of selling that time to advertisers. The anthem is typically only shown on telecasts on the Thursday night kickoff game and before the Super Bowl.

“The standard procedure is not to show them because of the way the commercial format works and the timing of the anthem to get to the kickoff,” Fox Sports President Eric Shanks said (via Newsday) Tuesday. “So I think we’re going to pay attention to events.”

President Trump continued to tweet at NFL players over the anthem, writing Saturday night: “Very important that NFL players STAND tomorrow, and always, for the playing of our National Anthem. Respect our Flag and our Country!”

He also tweeted what the Chicago Tribune says is video of an NHL game from last November:

On Thursday night, in the first game since the Dallas Cowboys, along with owner Jerry Jones and staff, took a knee and then rose for the anthem before the Monday night game, the reactions in Green Bay’s Lambeau Field was mixed.

The Packers had asked fans to join them in linking arms in a show of unity before the game against Chicago and some fans chanted “USA!” before the song began. During it, some fans booed. It was a scene that left Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and other players thinking that perhaps their message of protest against police brutality and social injustice was erroneously being tied to the flag and the military.

“The messaging of this unfortunately needs to continue to be redirected, I think,” Rodgers said. “It’s never been about the national anthem. It’s never been about the military. We’re all patriotic in the locker room. We love our troops. This is about something bigger than that — an invitation to show unity in the face of some divisiveness from the top in this country. And I’m proud of our guys. This has been a galvanizing situation for us. … [A]s much as some people want us to just shut up and play football and keep the politics to the politics, sports and politics have always intersected. And if we can help continue a conversation through demonstration of unity … I think that’s a good thing.

“We could hear some USA chants as it started, which is fantastic. Could also hear some negativity being yelled during the anthem. Semantics there, right? What’s disrespectful to the anthem? Yelling things during it or standing at attention with arms locked, facing the flag? That’s for you to decide.”

On Friday, the Seattle Seahawks announced that they would channel their protest into the Seahawks Players Equality and Justice for All Action Fund, which players said would support education and leadership programs addressing equality and justice.

If you’re wondering how this whole conversation breaks down with respect to the political allegiances of the 32 NFL teams’ fan bases, ESPN’s 538 has the answer:

According to the latest poll, here’s how fans feel:

Top Story Lines

Back to court: The NFL and NFLPA aren’t talking settlement in the Ezekiel Elliott case. (Read more)

Not so elementary: Deshaun Watson will make teams that passed on him regret it. (Read more)

Two-game suspension: The NFL suspended the Bears’ Danny Trevathan’s hit on Davante Adams of the Packers. (Read more)

At least Green Bay has time to heal: The Packers won easily but took a terrible beating. (Read more)

What’s gotten into the Redskins’ defensive line? Tomsula. (Read more)

Washington will try its luck again in prime time: Five story lines for Monday’s Redskins-Chiefs game. (Read more)

Paying it forward: A Redskins player offered a college kid free tickets — in exchange for charity work. (Read more)

Trump takes a beating on ‘SNL’: Alec Baldwin, as the president, said in the “Saturday Night Live” premiere that “People say I remind them of an NFL player because I’m combative, I like to win and I might have a degenerative brain disease.”

Jay-Z performed, wearing a No. 7 “Colin K” jersey.

Injury News

The inactives for the 9:30 game between the Saints and Dolphins are out, with one notable name on the list. Saints WR Willie Snead, fresh off a three-game suspension, will not suit up due to a hamstring injury.

Questionable

Michael Crabtree

Melvin Gordon

Matthew Slater

Dont’a Hightower

Anthony Hitchens

Sean Lee

Nolan Carroll

James Harrison

Benjamin Watson

D.J. Humphries

Doug Baldwin

Ruled out Sunday

Paxton Lynch

Matt Forte

Jordan Leggett

Curtis Samuel

Ryan Kalil

Fletcher Cox

Mike Iupati

Andrew Luck

Sam Bradford

Ben Heeney

Eric Smith

Fantasy football advice

Best and worst fantasy matchups: Maybe Week 4 will be a little more predictable. (Read more.)

Five moves you simply must make: You simply must start Joe Mixon. (Read more.)

Analysis: Marcus Mariotta’s breakout is coming and the future looks very bright. (Read more.)

Fantasy scout: Can Jay Ajayi capitalize on a jolly good matchup? Here’s what you need to be watching this week. (Read more.)

Week 4 cheat sheet

Everything you need to know before you set your lineup. (Read more.)

The Fantasy Football Beat

The Post’s fantasy football experts get you ready for Week 4. (Listen.)

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