LANDOVER, Md. – After weeks of boasting one of the largest groups of protesting players during the national anthem, only six active members of the San Francisco 49ers, and one inactive player, took a knee on Sunday before facing the Washington Redskins.
With a smattering of boos raining down from the stands, wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, linebacker Eli Harold, defensive lineman Arik Armstead, cornerback K’Waun Williams, safety Eric Reid and defensive back Adrian Colbert all took a knee as they continued to protest police brutality against African Americans. One inactive player took a knee with his teammates. The rest of the 49ers all stood during the anthem.
This came a week after roughly 20 49ers players took a knee during the anthem when San Francisco played at Indianapolis. Vice President Mike Pence left the stadium shortly after in what was believed to be a publicity stunt, and President Trump later tweeted that he had instructed Pence to do so.
It wasn’t immediately clear why fewer 49ers players elected to protest.
Team owners, along with the NFL Players Association, are expected to discuss the demonstrations on Tuesday and Wednesday in New York.
The league has said that there are no plans to mandate players to stand for the anthem and that there has been "no policy change." But NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote the league and players "need to move past his controversy."
"Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem," Goodell wrote in a memo to all 32 teams last week. "It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us. We also care deeply about our players and respect their opinions and concerns about critical social issues. The controversy over the Anthem is a barrier to having honest conversations and making real progress on the underlying issues. We need to move past this controversy, and we want to do that together with our players."