With the start of the NFL preseason this past Thursday, a number of players engaged in various forms of protest — rekindling the national anthem debate yet again.
Some players knelt, some raised fists, and one player chose to stay in the locker room for most of the anthem.
It’s clear this issue is not going away anytime soon.
However, while a number of players will continue to protest — upsetting many American fans across the country — there are still players who are standing proudly during the playing or singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” no matter what.
Here is a look at five active NFL players who have promised not to engage in protests during the national anthem — and their reasons why.
1.) Dak Prescott. The starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys (shown above right, at the top of this article) not only knows that standing for the national anthem means something to his team’s owner, Jerry Jones (whose team has a mandatory standing policy) — he personally feels strongly about this, and for good reason.
Prescott explained, “It’s bigger than … some of us think. I mean, it’s just important for me to go out there, hand over my heart, represent our country, and just be thankful. And not take anything I’ve been given and my freedom for granted.”
2.) Jimmy Garoppolo. Not only has Garoppolo (shown above left) been a far better quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers than the controversial Colin Kaepernick since joining that team in 2017. He also has a very different view of the national anthem.
In 2016, during an appearance on WEEI, a Boston sports talk-radio station, Garoppolo was asked about national anthem kneelers. He gave others some room for their opinions but also made his own stance clear on the topic.
“It’s not my idea of doing the right thing. But it’s his [Kaepernick] personal opinion, I guess. You’ve just got to let him stand by that. I think we have a great thing going on in this country. Everything about America — it’s a great thing. We’re all very blessed to be here. And it’s good to realize that.”
3.) Jakeem Grant. The Miami Dolphins may have a few national anthem protesters, but don’t include their kick returner with that lot.
When the Palm Beach Post asked Grant, a Texas native, about the NFL kneeling situation in 2016, the player provided a couple of reasons why he would not protest the anthem.
“I have a higher respect for the military guys to not kneel,” Grant said. “I have uncles that are in the military … I just don’t feel right [kneeling]. I’m not going to do it, but I understand how they feel and what they’re trying to accomplish.”
4.) Alejandro Villanueva. When an NFL player is a former Army Ranger and served three tours of duty in Afghanistan, it makes sense he would want to show respect to his fellow soldiers and the country they protect.
In 2016, he explained to ESPN why he will always stand for the flag.
“I don’t know if the most effective way is to sit down during the national anthem with a country that’s providing you freedom, providing you $16 million a year,” he said in part, “when there are black minorities that are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan for less than $20,000 a year.”
5.) Joe Cardona. The New England Patriots long snapper, currently in the Naval Reserve, is the league’s other active player with military experience. Like Villanueva, the Super Bowl 51 champ is not fond of national anthem protests.
“Obviously, I don’t agree with the method just because I know what it means for so many people,” he said in 2016, according to New England Sports Network. “The national anthem, watching the flag [being raised] — it means a lot to a lot of people, especially those serving overseas, those that have served, those that have fought for the freedoms that we have.”
Know of others who have taken a stance? Send ideas to us at [email protected]
Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, and other outlets.