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Seahawks, Titans players don't take part in anthem

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  • By Around The NFL staff NFL.com
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Players on the Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans did not take part in the national anthem ceremony prior to their game on Sunday. Both teams stayed in their respective locker rooms during the anthem.

Seahawks players announced in a statement they chose not to participate since they "will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of color in this country."

Here is the full statement:

"I believe we made history," Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright said after the game. "When statements are made like that, I am glad that we have the opportunity to come together, show the country that we are not going to stand for that. We have our rights, and we are going to exercise those rights, no one is going to take that away from us. And we are showing the young generation how it is going to be. Like I said, we are going to be the next Jim Brown, the next Kareem, those athletes that stood up for injustice. So I am glad we are the team to do that, and guys across the NFL."

"At the end of the day it's about coming together and collaborating and figuring out how to unite people together," Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett told reporters after the game. "I think as a team, we did that today. We showed that we have compassion for each other and we showed where we stand. We stand for equality. We stand for all that.

"So it was pretty exciting to be a part of something that was revolutionary as far as the whole NFL. It's people coming together as one. It didn't matter our race. It didn't matter our politics. It didn't matter religion. We came together and we united. We showed that we have power as people. And that's what we were doing today and I think that was super impressive."

"There isn't liberty and justice for all. I think guys for a while -- at least a year now -- have been protesting that by taking a knee, sitting down, putting up a fist, etc. etc. Their voices were watered down," Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman said after the game. "They were drowned out by the noise because people were saying 'Oh you're kneeling during the national anthem.' But these are the same people that today during the Patriots game were booing guys during the national anthem. But they don't see that as disrespectful. It's really a strange hypocrisy that we see.

"So as a team we wanted to do our best to not ostracize our guys, any of our individuals, allow them to feel welcomed and not make them uncomfortable. That's the worst thing you can do as a teammate is put your teammate in an uncomfortable position. We don't go out, the whole team doesn't come out, then it's easier for them to defend themselves. Say, 'hey, it's a team decision. I just did what the team did.' You're a good teammate. Perfect, fine. But if you get out there and ask a guy to kneel or sit, [he's] going against his values, going against his family, you put him in a weird spot. We never wanted to do that. We think we did a good job getting our message out and trying not to distract form it."

The Titans' organization released a statement minutes before the anthem:

"As a team, we wanted to be unified in our actions today. The players jointly decided this was the best course of action. Our commitment to the military and our community is resolute and the absence of our team for the national anthem shouldn't be misconstrued as unpatriotic."

After the Titans33-27 victory over the Seahawks, coach Mike Mularkey spoke to reporters.

"I let the team make a decision and I supported it," he explained on not taking part in the national anthem. "We made a statement about it.

"The team talked. We were unified as a team. It had nothing to do with disrespect to the anthem or the flag or this country. It did not. It was about making a statement that we were together. We don't appreciate some of the things that came out of ... Washington. It was more about that. I just want to make it clear: This is a team. Watch them every Sunday how they line up for the national anthem. Don't tell me this team isn't proud of this country or this flag. Just watch them."

Teams that don't participate in the anthem before are subject to fines by the NFL, but a league source told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport that the Seahawks and Titans will not be fined.

The decision to not take part comes two days after President Trump said NFL teams should fire players who do not stand during the national anthem. On Saturday, the NFL and NFL Players Association released responses to Trump's comments, and team owners have been responding throughout the weekend.

In each of Sunday's games, players protested and showed signs of unity on the sideline during the national anthem. Nearly all of the Pittsburgh Steelers' players stayed in the locker room during the national anthem prior to their game against the Chicago Bears.

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