Before his first preseason game with the Raiders, Marshawn Lynch remained seated during the national anthem, seemingly continuing Colin Kaepernick‘s protest against racial injustice. After the game, Lynch was nowhere to be found in the locker room, so he couldn’t explain why he didn’t stand up.
Raiders coach Jack Del Rio spoke with Lynch, though, and provided an explanation.
“Talked to Marshawn. Wanted to make sure we’re on the same page,” Del Rio said, per The Mercury News. “He said, `This is something I’ve done for 11 years. It’s not a form of anything other than me being myself.’
“I said, `Just so you understand how I feel, I very strongly believe in standing for the national anthem, but I’m going to respect you as a man. You do your thing, OK?’ So that’s a non-issue for me.”
As expected, the internet went to work after hearing about what Lynch told Del Rio. Specficially, people wanted to know if Lynch ever stood for the anthem at earlier points in his career. Pro Football Talk found one video that showed Lynch standing for the national anthem during his time with the Seahawks. Here’s a screenshot from Angie Johnson’s video:
NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo found another example:
But that doesn’t mean Lynch has always stood for the anthem during his career. Using Twitter, The Ringer’s Rodger Sherman found a collection of angry tweets (from a variety of Twitter users) directed at Lynch for sitting during the national anthem before the Seahawks’ playoff game against the Panthers in January 2016.
Here are a few examples that don’t include expletives:
Btw marshawn is a scum sitting down for the national anthem
— Justin McFadden (@jmcfadden21) January 17, 2016
Need to remind marshawn lynch that you stand during the national anthem
— Charles Hearn (@CharlesHearn5) January 17, 2016
So Marshawn Lynch can’t even stand for the National Anthem? Nice..smh #SEAvsCAR
— Barb (@BarbRichter1) January 17, 2016
So, Lynch appears to have stood for the national anthem at times during his career. And at other times, he appears to have not stood for the national anthem.
The thing is, we’ve yet to hear from Lynch about all of this, so there’s really no way for us to confirm much of anything. Maybe Del Rio misinterpreted what Lynch told him. Maybe Lynch said exactly what Del Rio said he said, but maybe Lynch meant that he occasionally — not always — remained seated for the anthem during his career. Without hearing from Lynch, there’s no way to know for sure.
Here’s what we do know for certain: On Saturday, Marshawn Lynch decided to sit down during the national anthem. Earlier on Saturday, counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia were run over by a car. A year ago, Lynch defended Kaepernick’s protest.
“I’d rather see him take a knee than stand up, put his hands up, and get murdered,” he told “Conan” last September. “So, I mean, my take on it is, [expletive]’s got to start somewhere, and if that was the starting point, I just hope people open up their eyes to see that there’s really a problem going on, and something needs to be done for it to stop. And I mean, if you’re really not racist then you won’t see what he’s done, what he’s doing, as a threat to America, but just addressing a problem that we have.”
Lynch is a smart person. He had to have known that his actions during the national anthem would become a story. He had to have known that it would spark a conversation about Kaepernick, his protest, and Charlottesville. And if Lynch didn’t want either of those things to happen, wouldn’t he have stuck around in the locker room after the game to explain that he wasn’t protesting anything by sitting through the national anthem?
By not saying anything, Lynch is saying plenty.