NFL veteran Adrian Peterson said that when the season begins he and other players plan on taking a knee together during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice. His comments come as protests have spread over the death of George Floyd.
The Washington running back told the Houston Chronicle that players throughout the league are planning to take a knee when the “Star Spangled Banner” starts playing.
“Just four years ago, you’re seeing (Colin) Kaepernick taking a knee, and now we’re all getting ready to take a knee together going into this season, without a doubt,” Peterson said Friday.
Taking a knee during the anthem was popularized by Kaepernick, who quarterbacked the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII. He was harshly criticized by some observers, including President Trump, and has not been signed by a team since the 2016 season. However, the symbolic gesture has been embraced by other players and now demonstrators participating in the Floyd protests.
Peterson, the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 2012, told the Chronicle that the league has “evolved” in its understanding of social justice and racial issues since Kaepernick began his protests in 2016. Now, Peterson believes it will be a league-wide team effort to make a difference.
“We’ve got to put the effort in as a group collectively,” he said. “Are they going to try to punish us all? If not, playing football is going to help us save lives and change things, then that’s what it needs to be.”
On Friday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a video statement saying “we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier” who were protesting. He said the NFL will “encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest.” His remarks came after several star players united to have the NFL condemn racism and say it believes “black lives matter.”
Protesting during the anthem recently garnered widespread attention after New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees initially said he would “never agree” to support it last week. He apologized twice publicly, saying his “comments were insensitive and completely missed the mark.” He even directed an Instagram post at Mr. Trump, saying “we need to listen and learn” about racial injustice after the president said he shouldn’t have apologized.