- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 13, 2020

LANDOVER — The Philadelphia Eagles remained in the locker room during the playing of the national anthem prior to Sunday’s game against Washington, while Washington stood on the sideline with several players holding fists in the air.

The Eagles’ decision to not take the field for the “Star-Spangled Banner” came as the NFL put an increased focus on social justice in the wake of nationwide protests against racial injustice.

No Washington player took a knee during the anthem — though quarterback Dwayne Haskins and several others raised a fist.

Prior to the national anthem, Washington staged its own demonstration against racial injustice, kneeling as a team while the names of victims of police brutality scrolled down the team’s videoboards at FedEx Field.

The protest followed a moment of unity between Washington and Philadelphia. The two teams locked arms to form an oval around midfield during the playing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the spiritual song also known as “the Black national anthem,” that the NFL will play at stadiums this year.

Philadelphia did not kneel on the sidelines, heading back to the locker room after the playing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

With no fans at the stadium, Washington’s demonstration was held in silence. During Thursday’s game between the Houston Texans and the Kansas City Chief, fans at Arrowhead Stadium booed when the two teams met for a moment of unity at midfield prior to kickoff.

Washington players and coaches remained on the ground for about 30 seconds before getting up to go to the locker room. “Bittersweet Symphony” played on the PA system as they went back inside.

Coach Ron Rivera said Thursday that the team had plans to discuss what the team would do for the national anthem on Friday. Rivera has said that he is OK if his players take a knee during the national anthem.

“The biggest thing that I just said to them, I said: ‘This has to be about respecting each other’s choice of what to do,’” Rivera said. “I think that’s the most important thing. It’s funny because people say, ‘Oh, you should all kneel together.’ Or, ‘You shouldn’t kneel because it doesn’t show team unity.’ Well, I think that’s wrong. I think if half your team kneels and half your team stands and everybody respects that, that’s team unity.

“That to me really is because I am mature enough to respect your right as an American — the First Amendment — to kneel and you respect my right to stand.”

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