The Cincinnati Bengals were one of the few teams in the NFL that didn’t have a single player take a knee during the national anthem, deciding instead to protest President Donald Trump’s recent comments with a more subtle showing.
Most of the players and coaches stood with their arms locked, and head coach Marvin Lewis explained the display after the 27-24 overtime loss at Green Bay.
“This thing has put the players into an awkward position, and our guys remain very committed to winning football games and continuing the great things they do in our community in Cincinnati in their outreach in everything they do,” Lewis said. “And they chose to show their support for our veterans, for our military, for the Cincinnati community by simply standing and staying unified together. They weren’t going to let the divisive words divide them.
“That’s the conclusion they came to, to be very respectful of the anthem and to stand together and focus on what we want to do and that’s win football games,” Lewis added. “We’ve been consistent with that all of the way through. It stops and starts there. Or starts and stops there I should say. Enough to be said about it. It’s over. You don’t want to have that be a focus of football. Unfortunately, it was. When something has gone away and all of a sudden it got brought back to the forefront.”
Since former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick began his kneeling protest last year, no Bengals player has failed to stand for the national anthem.
The team released a statement shortly after kickoff, which read:
“Football and politics don’t mix easily. Fans come to NFL games to watch great competition on the playing field and that’s where our focus should be.”