Miami Dolphins running back Arian Foster and three teammates, Kenny Stills, Michael Thomas, and linebacker Jelani Jenkins, all took a knee during the national anthem prior to the team’s game against the Seattle Seahawks. Much of the focus heading into the game had been on the announced “show of unity” that the Seahawks had planned for the day, but the attention after the anthem squarely focused on the four Dolphins players.
After the game, a 12-10 loss for the Dolphins, reporters asked Foster why he and his teammates chose to protest on a day, the 15th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, that many felt would be an inappropriate time for a protest. Foster explained simply that it is part of the beauty of living in the United States, being able to express your opinion whenever you feel you have to. From USA Today:
“They say it’s not the time to do this,” Foster said. “When is the time? It’s never the time in somebody else’s eye, because they’ll always feel like it’s good enough. And some people don’t. That’s the beautiful thing about this country. If somebody feels it’s not good enough, they have that right. That’s all we’re doing, exercising that right.”
Foster continued on to say that the protest was not meant as a form of disrespect for the military or first responders and proceeded to point out on Twitter that the four players had stood during the pre-game speech from the president commemorating those who lost their lives on 9/11 that was played in stadiums across the league.
The Dolphins owner, Stephen Ross, told reporters that he had spoken to the players prior to the game, was aware of their intentions and he supported their decision.
“I don’t think it was any lack of respect. I think everybody here — our team and our whole organization — respects the flag and what it stands for, and the soldiers and everything. But these guys are making a conversation of something that’s a very important topic in this country, and I’m 100% supportive of them.”
Finally, Foster said that the players right to protest and express their opinion on the topics of conversation that 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick brought into the national consciousness a few weeks ago is what the United States is all about.
“This is exactly what this country is about. We have people in other countries that if they speak out, they get beheaded. They get killed. They get tortured. That’s not what this is about. If somebody disagrees with it, they can disagree with it. But respect that right to protest.”