ENGLEWOOD, Colo. | The possibility of a yellow flag curtailed Brandon Marshall‘s red, white and blue tribute to President-elect Barack Obama with a black-and-white glove.
After scoring the go-ahead touchdown with just over a minute left in Denver’s 34-30 win at Cleveland on Thursday night, the Broncos‘ star receiver pulled the glove from his pants. He was about to put it on and raise his fist in the style of Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who made controversial black power salutes at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.
Slot receiver Brandon Stokley rushed to him in the back of the end zone and persuaded him to nix the salute because the Broncos couldn’t afford a 15-yard celebration penalty at that moment.
“That’s what a good old veteran is for,” Marshall said.
After the game, Marshall, who is black, read a statement he wrote about how inspired he was by Obama’s becoming the first black man elected to the nation’s highest office.
“Barack Obama’s election as the 44th president of the United States is a tremendous symbol of unity,” Marshall said. “I want to create that symbol of unity because Obama inspires me [and] a multicultural society, and I know at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico, Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised that black glove and fist in a silent gesture of black power and liberation.
“Forty years later, I wanted to make my own statement and gesture to represent the progress we made,” Marshall said. “I might get some criticism, but social landmarks are bigger than fines to me, especially two days out of an historic election.”
Fines are one thing, but a flag could have been a game-changer had the Broncos been forced to kick off from their own 15 with 1:14 remaining, especially to a return specialist as dangerous as Josh Cribbs.
Marshall said he wasn’t disappointed he didn’t get to raise his gloved fist, because he “still got to say what I wanted to say.”
“This is a historical moment, not just for black people but for the United States,” he said.
Quarterback Jay Cutler said Marshall made the right call by not putting on the glove during the game.
“Obviously, I’d rather Brandon save that for a different venue than a football game,” Cutler said. “But a lot of the guys in the locker room, they were politically involved and we talked about it. Obama won, and a lot of people are happy. It’s good. I mean, Brandon, if he keeps it off the football field, he can say whatever he wants.”
Marshall said that on the flight to Cleveland, he showed Cutler a text message he’d received regarding Obama’s victory in Tuesday’s historic election.
“Jay said, ‘Man, I’d be embarrassed to show you some of the ones I got,’” Marshall recounted. “So, I got to thinking. I said, ‘Man, it ain’t about black and white - it’s about red, blue and white.’ And that’s what I wanted to represent.”