(Reuters) – The Miami Dolphins said on Thursday they would stay inside their locker room during the playing of both the national anthem and the Black national anthem before their season opener, calling the NFL’s decision to play both songs an “empty gesture.”
In July, the NFL announced that in addition to playing the “Star-Spangled Banner” before each Week One game, it would also play “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, a song often referred to as the Black national anthem, in light of widespread protests against racial injustice.
That left players to decide whether to stand or kneel for the songs, and in a video posted to Twitter, Dolphin players said they did not want to be part of a “publicity parade.”
“Before the media starts wondering and guessing, they just answered all your questions. We’ll just stay inside,” head coach Brian Flores says at the end of the video while wearing a shirt with “Vote” written on it.
Kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality began with San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick in 2016 and led him to become a lightning rod of controversy. No team signed him after that season.
But in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody in May, the NFL has said it was wrong not to listen to its players earlier and upped its commitment to addressing the issue of systemic racism.
The Dolphins begin their season on Sunday in New England when they take on the Patriots before returning to Miami for their home opener on Sept. 20.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)