49ers GM John Lynch: Anthem protests are 'divisive,' but players 'have that right'
It’s been a year since Colin Kaepernick, then the quarterback of the 49ers, began his protest against racial injustice by taking a seat during the national anthem. A year later, Kaepernick no longer finds himself on an NFL team, but his protest lives on, as players like Marshawn Lynch and Michael Bennett have sat through the anthem before recent preseason games.
On Wednesday, 49ers general manager John Lynch was the latest to weigh in about the anthem protests. He called them “divisive,” but also acknowledged that the players “have that right” to carry out their protest. Via Phil Barber of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat:
“I’ve got my own feelings about it. And I think my strongest feeling — we had a great deal the other day where we had four chairs up here, and there was Steve Young and Jerry Rice. And they talked about ‘the 49er way.’ And I always thought that’s one of the great things about this league. As a matter of fact, I think it’s a great beacon for the rest of the culture, in terms of the way it should be. You strive for a common goal, and you have unity. And I think this game brings people together. So I think personally when I see that, I think that’s divisive. And I understand guys see things and they’re not happy. They have that right. And I think we’ll always respect people’s rights. That doesn’t mean I believe that. I believe this game should be celebrated for what it is — I think, a tremendous unifier for our country, and for the way things should be.
“Bill Walsh used to speak about it. You take guys from all over the country, different socio-economic backgrounds, racial backgrounds, and you have friends for life. Warren Sapp’s here today, working with our defensive line, because he’s a buddy of mine and always will be. So those types of stories I think get lost in something like this. But they’ve got their reasons and we’ll always be respectful of those.”
Marshawn Lynch, the Raiders new running back, on Saturday. After the game, Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said that he personally disagreed with Lynch’s decision, but also called it a “non-issue.” Furthermore, after Bennett sat during the anthem, the Seahawks have been supportive even though coach Pete Carroll believes players should stand for the anthem, our Jason La Canfora reported on Wednesday.
Both protests came in the aftermath of Charlottesville, where a group of counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally were run over by a car.