Indianapolis Colts Coach Frank Reich knelt during the National Anthem before his team’s game during the NFL’s opening weekend.
Reich, a white man, was the lone individual to kneel during the anthem. Other Colts players locked arms to Reich’s left and right in a show of unity. He explained his decision to kneel during media availability time after the game.
“We thought it was a unique way to express what needs to be done, where someone like myself, a White leader, would kneel, not out of defiance but out of humility,” he said, according to Fox News. “We can’t leave things the way they are. It takes all of us, everybody, but certainly White leaders really have an opportunity to step up and make a big change as far as systemic racism is concerned.”
The gesture was not lost his his players, who heaved praise on their coach for making a statement.
“He’s the one who said, ‘it starts with me,'” Colts Linebacker Darius Leonard said, according to Yahoo Sports. “It definitely means a lot for someone to to step up and say ‘I’m going to take a stand for you guys.'”
Colts Clarify Actions of Coach
Following the playing of the National Anthem, the Colts organization released a statement to clarify their stance.
“To be clear, we are not protesting the flag, the anthem, or the men and women who wear the uniform,” the statement says. “The timing of this action is to highlight that the presence power and oppression o racism remains inconsistent with the unity and freedoms of that it means to be an American.”
“Our black communities feel the weight of this issue and they are hurting,” the statement continued. “Our statement today and going forward expresses that we will not merely speak out against racism, but we will demonstrate our convictions with consistent actions to support and uplift our Black communities.”
The Colts would lose their season opener to the Jaguars by a final score of 27-20.
H/T: Yahoo Sports