Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall lost a sponsorship due to his national anthem protest during Thursday night’s season opener.
Colin Kaepernick shook up the world at large a couple of weeks ago after explaining his reasoning for sitting out during the national anthem ceremony. Kaepernick explained his unwillingness to stand and salute the flag that represents a “country that oppresses black people and people of color”. Since his comments, a handful of other NFL players decided to show their support for the cause during the end of the preseason but Thursday night saw the first regular season protest of the 2016 season.
Broncos starting middle linebacker, and former college teammate of Kaepernick, Brandon Marshall knelt during the opening ceremony of his teams season opener against the Carolina Panthers. Marshall spoke after the game and was ready for the barrage of questions that were bound to come his way during his meeting with the press. After his team squeaked by the Panthers Thursday night, Marshall said he was ready for the chaos that would ensue after his protest.
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“I’m not against the military. I’m not against the police or America. I’m just against social injustice.” Marshall said. He went on to express his gratitude and support for his former teammate Kaepernick, and stood by his decision. “Colin is my fraternity brother, my ex-teammate, and I believe in what he’s trying to do. I believe in his actions. So I definitely want to stand by him,” Marshall felt that his actions on Thursday night would further the conversation that was started, and hopefully lead to more players speaking out.
On Friday morning, word got around that Marshall had lost a local sponsor in Colorado, the Air Academy Federal Credit Union, due to his protest.
AAFCU President and CEO Glenn Strebe noted Marshall’s right to express himself in their official statement but felt the move needed to be made. The league and teams alike have expressed that though they encourage their players to stand for the national anthem, it is not mandatory. Bronco’s head coach Gary Kubiak reiterated Marshall’s right to his own beliefs when asked about the matter, but says he’s committed to staying focused on football.
The league has voiced support for the individuals who have expressed their beliefs and their right to do so in a peaceful way. But businesses and sponsors alike are not bound to the athletes representing them and that could be a deciding factor in player’s kneeling in protest in the future.