The spread of protests during the national anthem around the league and the country is not something the Vikings have discussed as a team, said Vikings player rep and team captain Chad Greenway.
“As far as we all know on our team, and what we’ve talked about, is doing the traditional national anthem lineup,” Greenway said. “Vikings helmet under the arm and a hand over the heart.”
San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the first to protest when he sat during the national anthem at a preseason game last month. He has since chosen to kneel during the national anthem and has been joined by a teammate and others around the league, including Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said at the time.
Last week, the Seattle Seahawks and the Kansas City Chiefs each decided to stand with arms interlocked as a show of solidarity during the regular-season opener on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters raised a black-covered fist, a la the 1968 Black Power Olympics protest by gold medalist Tommie Smith and bronze medalist John Carlos during the 200-meter medal ceremony.
At least one Viking has offered a strong public opinion on the matter. Left guard Alex Boone, a former teammate of Kaepernick’s, didn’t hold back when ESPN asked him about the situation late last month.
He said he and Kaepernick “probably would have had a problem on the sideline” if they were still teammates.
“You have to show some respect, especially in this position that we’re in,” said Boone, whose brother J.J., a Marine, served in Iraq. “We’re playing a game for a living. ... You see all these pictures of these veterans that have no legs and they’re standing up [from] their wheelchair. ... It’s shameful.”
The NFL has tried to stay firmly on the fence in wishful hopes the protests don’t spread any further while disappearing quickly. The league knows it can’t come down hard on protesters because that would be perceived as insensitive to people of color. But the NFL also has a long history of honoring the military, so it continues to “encourage” players to stand for what is a military song that evolved from a poem Francis Scott Key wrote in 1814 after witnessing the British bombardment of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812.
Meanwhile, the trend has trickled into the high school ranks, as is customary of trends that begin at the NFL level. To the NFL’s consternation, there have been numerous reports of high school players kneeling in places such as Massachusetts, Alabama, New Jersey and Minneapolis North High School.
For the time being at least, the Vikings are one of the teams flying under the radar right before kickoffs.
Asked what would happen if a Viking did take a knee, Greenway said, “It’s not something I’d want to comment on just because I don’t have to at this point. We haven’t had anything as far as our team. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s my concern, being one of the leaders and captains, is what’s going on here. If something does happen, then obviously we’ll address it.”
Asked for his thoughts in general on what’s happening around the league in this regard, Greenway made sure to help the team stay under that radar.