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NFL Players Are Already Protesting the National Anthem in This Year’s Preseason

Athletes were kneeling, raising their fists, and refusing to be on the field — this spells only more controversy for the sports league

Fans who were holding out hope that national anthem protests were firmly in the National Football League’s past will no doubt be disappointed by activities during this year’s preseason.

New reports have shown that multiple NFL players are continuing to protest the national anthem, some by kneeling and others by raising their fists.

Thursday night kicked off the first full week of the league’s preseason — and controversy has already returned to the game.

Miami Dolphins wide receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson both knelt during the national anthem ahead of their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to Miami Herald reporter Adam Beasley.

Dolphins defensive end Robert Quinn also protested but did so by raising his fist.

Philadelphia Eagles players Malcolm Jenkins, safety, and De’Vante Bausby, cornerback, raised their fists during the anthem in their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Michael Bennett, defensive end, reportedly walked out of the locker room and to his team’s bench during the performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Related: NFL Anthem Protests Take a Toll on Fan Loyalty

The NFL has already released a statement about the protests.

“The NFL has been engaged in constructive discussions with the NFL Players Association regarding the anthem and issues of equality and social justice that are of concern to many Americans,” the statement said. “While those discussions continue, the NFL has agreed to delay implementing or enforcing any club work rules that could result in players being disciplined for their conduct during the performance of the anthem.”

The statement said the league’s rules about the national anthem remain the same as recently announced — players must be standing on the field when it plays.

The league has not been clear about punishments for not standing on the field or for kneeling for the anthem — but these new protests are a clear sign this debate is a long way from over. The NFL has a long season ahead of it.

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PopZette editor Zachary Leeman can be reached at [email protected].