FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- While teams were concerned about adding Colin Kaepernick to their rosters because of his national anthem protest last season, no one really considered the possibility of someone already on the roster being the next to not stand.
Running back Marshawn Lynch sat on a cooler during the national anthem prior to the Oakland Raiders' preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday. Lynch did not play in the game.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat during the national anthem last season during a preseason game, and he continued his protest throughout the season by kneeling. It sparked a national debate, and Kaepernick has not been able to find a team to play on this season even though he's an established quarterback. There have been multiple reports that it is because of his protest.
Lynch played majority of his career with the Seattle Seahawks, and he was there when current Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn was there as the team's defensive coordinator.
Quinn's Falcons have never had an issue with players not standing during the national anthem. Last season, while protests were rampant following a couple of high-profile police shootings, the Falcons and Saints showed unity by creating a circle around midfield where the two teams joined hands.
On Sunday, following the Falcons' practice, Quinn defended Lynch as a player without getting too much into the protest.
"He’s a fantastic teammate, and I’m sure that was one that he discussed with their guys, too," Quinn said. "Knowing the type of competitor he is and teammate he is, that would be something he would do for sure."
Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said following Saturday's game that he had discussed Lynch's decision to sit with him, although it was not clear if the conversation occurred before or after the game.
"On Marshawn, talked to Marshawn trying to make sure we're on the same page," Del Rio told reporters after the game. "He said, 'This is something I've done for 11 years. It's not a form of anything other than me being myself.' I said, 'So you understand how I feel, I very strongly believe in standing for the national anthem. But I'm going to respect you as a man, you do your thing. We'll do ours.' It's a non-issue for me."
It's unlikely Lynch has sat for the national anthem for 11 years and no one noticed, and Pro Football Talk even found footage of him standing for anthems in the past.
Quinn is very open with his team, and they have discussions in the locker room about a variety of issues that are going on in the league and around the world.
If a player expressed an intent to not stand for the national anthem, Quinn would handle it the same way. But he wouldn't just want the player to come to him. It would be a conversation that he'd want everyone in the 'Brotherhood' to be a part of.
"Everything for us we’ll try to discuss as a team," Quinn said, "and I’m sure that’s the case with [Lynch]."
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