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Two Miami Dolphins players took a knee during the national anthem before their team’s preseason opener Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, becoming the first players to do so in the lead-up to the 2018 season.
According to the Miami Herald, wide receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson both kneeled. Stills is continuing the protest he began in 2016. Wilson, a new Dolphin, did not protest previously while he was with the Kansas City Chiefs. Defensive end Robert Quinn also raised a fist during the anthem, as he did for the last two seasons when he was with the Los Angeles Rams.
Those protests will serve as a test for the NFL and the Dolphins as the league and individual teams continue to figure out how they will handle players who chose to demonstrate during the anthem.
In May, team owners passed a new policy that would require players to stand on the sideline during the anthem or stay in the locker room. The Associated Press reported last month that the Dolphins had a provision in their player conduct manual stating violators of that policy could be fined or suspended.
But the NFL has since said the policy was on hold and no new rules would be created or enforced amid discussions with the NFL Players Association. The players’ union was not consulted before the owners passed the new policy.
Around the league Thursday night, other players choose to remain in the locker room, notably four Jacksonville Jaguars — cornerback Jalen Ramsey, linebacker Telvin Smith, and running backs Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon. Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Michael Bennett, who sat during the anthem last year while with the Seattle Seahawks, entered the field as the anthem began playing and stood behind his teammates. Safety Malcolm Jenkins and cornerback De’Vante Bausby each raised a fist.
Jenkins, one of the founders of the Players Coalition, stopped raising his fist midway through last season after the league committed to financially supporting players’ social justice causes.
Jenkins and a handful of Eagles teammates, including receiver Alshon Jeffery, wore T-shirts during pregame warmups to highlight one of those issues. The shirts said “More than 60% of prison populations are people of color.” Last week, Jenkins and other members of the Players Coalition wore shirts during training camp practices with messaging about youth incarceration.
Follow Lindsay H. Jones on Twitter @bylindsayhjones.