Green Bay Packers claim their national anthem protests not about President Donald Trump

By The Sports Xchange  |  Sept. 25, 2017 at 2:40 AM
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Not all of the national anthem protests are about President Donald Trump's controversial remarks from Friday night.

While most members of the Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals stood on their respective sidelines, arms interlocked in a show of unity, the Packers' Martellus Bennett, Lance Kendricks and Kevin King sat on the bench for the anthem before Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals. For Kendricks, whose brother is a policeman, it was about supporting Bennett and raising awareness for the people in Puerto Rico who were slammed last week by Hurricane Maria. Kendricks' wife is from Puerto Rico.

"My brother has my full support," an emotional Kendricks said after he played a key role in the Packers' 27-24 victory. "He's my oldest brother. He's my big brother. He taught me the way. I think he'd be proud of me for standing up for what I believe in. It's just bigger than us. We can't be selfish. There are people over there missing and homeless. It's bigger than being selfish on a decision to do something. It's about helping others and making sure others are safe, especially in this country. Puerto Rico is a part of this country. ...

"It's a beautiful place and for it to be half underwater and help not to get there ASAP, I feel like that's something that really should be focused on. I'm not in any way political. I don't really have huge voice on that, but that's just my opinion. If people don't like it -- you can't be selfish. It's bigger than us. It's bigger than all of this."

Two weeks ago, when the Packers hosted the Seattle, Bennett stood with a raised fist in support of his brother, Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, who allegedly was singled out by Las Vegas police after there were gunshots following a boxing match in Las Vegas. This time, he sat on the bench.

Bennett was not in the locker room after the game.

Teams across the league protested comments made by Trump during a rally in Huntsville, Ala.

"That's a total disrespect of our heritage. That's a total disrespect of everything that we stand for," Trump said about athletes not standing for the anthem. "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you'd say, 'Get that son of a b-- off the field right now. Out! He's fired."

Trump's comments were roundly criticized throughout the league.

"This thing has put the players into an awkward position," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "Our guys remain very committed to winning football games and continuing the great things they do in our community in Cincinnati in their outreach in everything they do. And they chose to show their support for our veterans, for our military, for the Cincinnati community by simply standing and staying unified together. They weren't going to let the device of words divide them. That's the conclusion they came to: to be very respectful of the anthem and to stand together and focus on what we want to do and that's win football games. We've been consistent with that all of the way through. It starts and stops there. It's over. You don't want to have that be a focus of football. Unfortunately, it was."

The Packers' King said it was a tough decision, in part because he said his grandfather is a veteran.

"As great as this country is, some of the things that (President Trump) said, is not the way we do things. That's why I sat down," King said. "I'm not sure if it's something I will continue to do. I don't want to disrespect anybody."

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