Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch sat on a cooler on the sideline during the national anthem during the team’s opening preseason game Saturday night against the Arizona Cardinals.
Lynch didn’t play in the game at University of Phoenix Stadium. His locker was cleared by the time media was granted access to the locker room, multiple reporters said.
Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said he was unaware Lynch would sit for the anthem, but added that the two spoke afterward and described the running back’s action as a “non-issue” to him.
“He said, ‘This is something I’ve done for 11 years — it’s not a form of anything other than me being myself,’ ” Del Rio said in a postgame news conference. “I said, ‘So you understand how I feel, I very strongly believe in standing for the national anthem, but I’m gonna respect you as a man. You do your thing, OK, and we’ll do ours.’ “
The moment came on a day in which a car hit peaceful protesters, killing a woman and injuring at least 19 people, after white supremacists and counter-protesters clashed at a rally in Charlottesville.
During an interview on Conan last year, Lynch discussed former San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaeperneck taking a knee during the anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice. Kaepernick, who remains a free agent, began his protest in last year’s preseason by sitting before later deciding to kneel instead.
“I’d rather see him take a knee than stand up, put his hands up, and get murdered,” Lynch said of Kaepernick.
The Arizona Republic contributed to this report.
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