In spite of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s efforts to quell the National Anthem controversy consuming the league, nearly two dozen players continued to protest racial inequality during Week Seven’s schedule of games on Sunday, Oct. 22.
Six members of the Seattle Seahawks squad joined teammate Michael Bennett in sitting the anthem out, three Miami Dolphins (Julius Thomas, Michael Thomas, and Kenny Stills) remained in the stadium tunnel for the anthem’s duration, and Rams DE Robert Quinn raised his fist as the song played. Perhaps the most controversial demonstration came from Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman David Irving, who waited until the anthem was complete to also raise his fist.
Leading up to Sunday’s action word had gotten around that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ demand that players on his team stand during the ceremony rubbed Irving the wrong way. Thus, it had been anticipated that the 24-year-old Compton native may act on how he felt.
After the game, reporters attempted to get Irving to speak on his decision to protest, but he was hesitant, stating, “I’ve said some teasers here and there and it turned into a big, huge thing, a big distraction … We’re just going to talk about football now.”
In follow-up, he was asked a pair of additional questions on the topic, one of which concerned a comparison to iconic ’68 Olympics duo John Carlos and Tommie Smith. Irving declined to speak on the comparison, but he’d oblige in responding to whether he meant any disrespect towards military servicemembers by the gesture.
“My dad’s a Master Sergeant and I’ve had plenty of discussions and talks with him about the issue, and my oldest brother served as a Marine as well. You know, I’m not meaning to disrespect the flag at all,” he said.