It wasn't unanimous but Broncos decide to stand as team for National Anthem


Each week, Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph meets with his leadership council, which is comprised of captains and other veteran players.

A primary topic Wednesday was out of the norm: The National Anthem. The leadership council decided the team would stand during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner on Sunday prior to the Broncos' AFC West Division game against the Oakland Raiders.

It was not a unanimous vote.

"It was back-and-forth and definitely management wanted us to stand and the majority ruled,'' said Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. "And the majority wanted to stand and that was pretty much the end of it.''

After roughly half the Bronco players joined dozens of others across the NFL in kneeling during the national anthem last Sunday – sparking a national conversation with heated opinions on both sides – the team issued a statement Thursday afternoon saying from here on out, they will stand for the National Anthem.

The full message the team posted on Instagram:

"Last week, members of our team joined their brothers around the NFL in a powerful display of unity. It was an emotional time for everyone, including the fans who support us each and every week. As controversial as it appeared, we needed to show our collective strength and resolve.

"Our voices needed to be heard loud and clear. Make no mistake -- our actions were in no way a protest of the military, the flag, or those who keep us safe. We have nothing but the deepest love and respect for those who protect our way of life and the freedoms we enjoy as Americans.

"While there's no greater country, it's not perfect. Inequalities still exist, and we have work to do in all forms of social justice. We can all do better.

"Our locker room is one diverse place, and that's what makes it so special. It's where thoughtful, intelligent leaders from all different races, religions and backgrounds come together. We may have different values and beliefs, but there's one thing we all agree on"

"We're a team and we stand together -- no matter how divisive some comments and issues can be, nothing should ever get in the way of that.

"Starting Sunday, we will be standing together.''


Derek Wolfe, a Broncos defensive end who not only stood for the National Anthem but was outspoken in relating his feelings why he believed in standing, said by meetings end, all agreed on standing during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner this Sunday.

"There was a healthy discussion and we all agreed we should be standing,'' he said. "They made their point (by kneeling last week), the point was made.''

At least half the team took a knee during the Anthem on Sunday in Buffalo as a protest to the harsh rhetoric used by President Trump during a political rally in Alabama.

Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall said Monday he didn't think they could get every player on the team to do the same thing during the Anthem.

“Everybody’s not going to kneel,’’ Marshall said. “I didn’t read all of (Derek) Wolfe’s comments but I saw of them, he’ll never kneel. You’ll never have everybody kneel. Everybody could stand.’’

Asked if perhaps the players could stand and interlock arms, Marshall said: “That means nothing. In my opinion, that means nothing if we all stand and lock arms. I mean I understand that’s showing unity, I just don’t see the point in that. Me personally.’’

Marshall, who is part of the leadership council, declined to speak about the vote to stand Thursday.

"Not everybody was for it, but we wanted to go as a team and figure out something and that was the choice we made,'' Harris said.

Where was Harris on the subject?

"I thought it was important to kneel last week and I understand why we should stand this week,'' he said. "I was on both sides. But I was ready to get it over with and get focusing on this game. I thought this was the only way  for us to move on. The main thing was I wanted us to get back to playing football.''



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