The majority of Houston Texans players protested ahead of Sunday's game in Seattle after ESPN The Magazine reported that owner Bob McNair said, "We can't have the inmates running the prison," during mid-October owners meetings in reference to ongoing player demonstrations during the national anthem. McNair met with players Saturday morning and expressed regret for his comment. He also issued a public apology Friday.
It's the latest high-profile show of social activism by NFL players during the national anthem since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started doing it last season. In a pregame protest of racial oppression and inequality in the United States, Kaepernick sat during the national anthem before a 2016 preseason game, then knelt during the anthem throughout the season.
The players' movement for social equality gained more attention this season, when President Donald Trump criticized NFL players who lodge pregame protests, saying in a speech in Alabama on Sept. 22 that he wished those players would be released. He also encouraged fans who are offended to walk out of stadiums. Several players and coaches reacted strongly to Trump on social media, and players -- joined by coaches and owners, in some instances -- across the league knelt, locked arms, raised their fists and even refused to come out of the locker room during the national anthem in Week 3. There were several more protests in Week 4. Vice President Mike Pence left the 49ers-Colts game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis in Week 5 because of protesting that took place during the anthem.
Here are the players who protested in Week 8 (most recent updates first):
Kansas City Chiefs: Marcus Peters was not on the field for the national anthem before Monday night's game against the Broncos. He came out of tunnel after the anthem was over. Peters had previously sat on a bench on the sideline for the national anthem this season. -- Adam Teicher
Houston Texans: During the national anthem before Sunday’s game against the Seahawks, the majority of Texans players knelt and linked arms during the national anthem. Approximately 10 players stood. Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and rookie running back D'Onta Foreman missed Friday’s practice after McNair's comments were revealed in the ESPN The Magazine report. -- Sarah Barshop
Seattle Seahawks: Several members of the Seahawks’ defensive line again sat on the bench during the national anthem ahead of Sunday's game against the Texans. Taking a seat were Michael Bennett, Sheldon Richardson, Cliff Avril, Jarran Reed, Frank Clark, Quinton Jefferson, Marcus Smith, Branden Jackson and Nazair Jones. Another defensive lineman, Dion Jordan, stood next to those players along with offensive linemen Justin Britt and Oday Aboushi. Linebacker Michael Wilhoite again took a knee. -- Brady Henderson
Philadelphia Eagles: Safety Malcolm Jenkins continued demonstrating for social justice by raising his fist above his head during the national anthem before Sunday's game against the 49ers. Safety Rodney McLeod joined him by raising a fist, as he has for the past several weeks. Defensive end Chris Long placed an arm around Jenkins as a sign of support, a gesture he has made since the events in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia, this summer. Jenkins discussed McNair's comments on Friday, saying, "Obviously his comments will represent him, but from a player's standpoint, we're focused on our goals, we feel like we still have an opportunity to move forward with whoever is interested in doing that, and so hopefully we can get that same type of commitment from those in league leadership. That's our goal. It's not to appease one another, it's not to change someone's personal opinion, it's just to get some actual work done and change done." -- Tim McManus
San Francisco 49ers: For the second week in a row, the 49ers had seven players kneel during the national anthem. Linebacker Eric Reid, receiver Marquise Goodwin, linebacker Eli Harold, safety Adrian Colbert and cornerback K'Waun Williams were among those kneeling. Linebacker Reuben Foster, who knelt last week, stood behind the kneeling players this week with a hand on Harold’s shoulder. Two of the Niners could not be immediately identified from a distance because they were in street clothes. Williams (quadriceps) is also inactive but knelt again in street clothes. -- Nick Wagoner
Los Angeles Chargers: For a third straight week, left tackle Russell Okung stood with the rest of his teammates during the national anthem, raising his right fist. Okung attended a meeting with NFL owners and commissioner Roger Goodell earlier this week to discuss how the league will handle anthem protests moving forward. Okung recently wrote an open letter to other NFL players on The Players' Tribune, with the goal of overcoming "uncharted territory" by opening a line of communication and responding with "one voice" as players. -- Eric D. Williams
New Orleans Saints: Most of the Saints' players briefly knelt in unity before the anthem against the Bears, as they have done in their past three games. They then all stood during the anthem, with some players and coaches locking arms. Many fans in the Superdome booed as they kneeled, even though it was before the anthem. -- Mike Triplett
Miami Dolphins: Receiver Kenny Stills, tight end Julius Thomas and safety Michael Thomas remained in the tunnel during the national anthem before Thursday night's game against the Ravens, like they did in the previous game. All three players knelt before the Week 4 game against the Saints in London. Miami now has a team rule that players must stand if they are on the sideline, but they have the option to remain in the tunnel. -- James Walker