Colin Kaepernick Praises NFL Players Who Took A Knee During Their Preseason Opener

They weren't the only ones to protest.

During the Miami Dolphins' preseason opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday, two players chose to take a knee in protest of racial injustice during the national anthem. Dolphins receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson were photographed in the moment, while fellow player Robert Quinn stood with his arm raised in a fist.

"It was something I was going to do regardless if he was there or not," Wilson, who is new to the team this season, told the Miami Herald. "But to have somebody as passionate about the situation as I am is great that we can do it together."

Earlier this year, the NFL announced new rules requiring players to stand during the national anthem, or remain in the locker room — with teams facing fines if players do not comply. Many players and organizations spoke out against the policy, reiterating that the peaceful protests are about police brutality and racial inequality, not disrespect for the flag or anthem.

According to HuffPost, the NFL Players Association filed a grievance against the NFL's policy in June, saying it is "inconsistent" with their collective bargaining agreement and "infringes on player rights." The league later released a joint statement that the rules would not be enforced while the issue is discussed. 

Colin Kaepernick, the former 49ers quarterback whose refusal to stand for the anthem inspired fellow players' protests, tweeted his praise for Stills and Wilson on Twitter, posting a photo of him and Stills wearing shirts that read, "I know my rights."

The Dolphins players weren't the only ones to protest during Thursday night's preseason games. Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, who has been vocal about the issues surrounding the NFL protests, tweeted a photo of himself before his game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. In the image, he wears a shirt reading, "More than 60 percent of prison populations are people of color." According to NBC News, Jenkins raised a fist during the anthem.

Meanwhile, Jacksonville Jaguars Telvin Smith, Jalen Ramsey, Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon stayed in the tunnel during the anthem before their game against the New Orleans Saints. As Smith told the Florida Times-Union of his decision, "I've got beliefs and I did what I did. I don't know if it's going to be every week. But as a man, I've got to stand for something."

Seattle Seahawks Duane Brown, Quinton Jefferson, and Branden Jackson reportedly remained in the locker room before their game against the Indianapolis Colts. Jenkins' Eagles teammate De'Vante Bausby also raised his fist during the anthem, while Michael Bennett spent the anthem walking toward the bench from the tunnel. Chris Long reportedly put his arm around Jenkins' shoulder during the song.

Considering this was just the first day of preseason games, it will be interesting to see how these protests continue when the regular season begins — as well as how the league responds.

Cover image via  Jai Agnish I Shutterstock

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