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Former Jaguar says players were encouraged not to kneel during anthem

Peyton Thompson of the Jacksonville Jaguars celebrates a play during the second half of their game against the Houston Texans at EverBank Field on December 17, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Peyton Thompson of the Jacksonville Jaguars celebrates a play during the second half of their game against the Houston Texans at EverBank Field on December 17, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) (2017 Getty Images)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As the country continues to struggle in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, a former Jaguar said that players were encouraged not to kneel during the national anthem during his time with the team as a social injustice protests became a major topic in 2017.

Peyton Thompson, a defensive back who spent four seasons with the Jaguars from 2014-17, tweeted on Monday afternoon that Jacksonville players were told by coach Doug Marrone and former executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin to not kneel to support former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s growing protest of social injustice.

Thompson also took offense to the NFL’s response to the death of Floyd, an African American who died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into his neck during an incident last week. It was caught on camera and has sparked massive protests and violence, and renewed a call for action across the nation.

“The statement issued by the @nfl is complete trash. I specifically remember Tom Coughlin and Doug Marone telling us we couldn't kneel. Thank God we had an owner of minority who weighed in and got us to kneel together! My job security was on the line if I supported my people.”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a Saturday release that the league has “an urgent need for action” in wake of the recent deaths of African Americans Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Floyd. Numerous players joined Thompson in saying that the statement was hollow and pivoted the conversation back to what Kaepernick quietly began in the preseason of 2016.

Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem on Sept. 1, 2016, igniting a national debate about whether it was right or disrespectful. He opted out of his contract the following March and hasn’t played in the league since.

The 2017 season was dominated by the kneeling protests, including remarks by President Donald Trump that indicated NFL owners should fire players who kneeled for the anthem. That led to a powerful display across the league as a response to the President. In games on Sept. 24, 2017, some players kneeled and others stood during the anthem. Jaguars owner Shad Khan stood arm in arm with players Marcedes Lewis and Telvin Smith, a show of solidarity.


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