Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer 22d

Dan Quinn: Falcons will lock arms, not kneel, during Sunday's anthem



FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn said his team plans to continue to show unity by locking arms during the national anthem, but Quinn doesn't expect anyone to kneel when the Falcons host the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

Quinn discussed the topic with the players Wednesday, a follow-up to last Sunday's demonstration in Detroit where owner Arthur Blank joined the team for the anthem while defensive tackles Grady Jarrett and Dontari Poe were the only Falcons to take a knee. Both Jarrett and Poe were moved to take such action after President Donald Trump lashed out at NFL players by saying, "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He's fired! He's fired!'"

Jarrett and Poe never informed Quinn of their intentions, but Quinn understood their emotions regarding Trump's rant.

"By no means was it ever a protest of the anthem," Quinn said. "This (past) weekend was a difficult weekend that showed, 'You know, I'm pissed about something. I'm upset, and I want to react in a certain way.' ... Our best way to show how solid we are is by everything that we do as a group."

Trump's words inspired league-wide demonstrations, including the one the Falcons plan to continue this week.

"For us, we will lock arms together during that time," Quinn said. "And we encourage our fans to do the same. I think that would be kind of a nice tribute as we're getting started. It's an important time in our world. There's a lot of issues that are really important to talk about. And we'll spend some time, and we have as a team, talking through some of those. For us, you know how many things we do together as a group. And that would seem appropriate for us."

Quinn said he had discussions with Jarrett and Poe about taking a knee.

"I'll keep those conversations private with them, but we definitely did," Quinn said. "It's a really important topic, especially in our world. But we want to make sure that we're always keeping our group in mind. There were a lot of people who felt a certain way over the weekend, and that's OK. It's all right to have those feelings and have those emotions."

Asked if he ever foresaw addressing such a topic as an NFL coach, Quinn shook his head and responded.

"As you go through different things, sometimes there's history that gets written right while we're going through it," Quinn said. "This is one of those times. And how do we handle those situations in the very best way.

"What's fortunate for us, we live in an area where civil rights had a pretty strong foundation on our country for years and years and years. And we're really honored to be here and be a part of this as a whole group."

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