The entire Raiders roster stood at attention before Saturday’s exhibition against Tennessee during the playing of the national anthem.
The Titans followed suit, without anyone copying 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit during the anthem on Friday night. Kaepernick has said he was protesting police brutality of minorities, an issue that has dominated headlines this year.
Kaepernick’s protest has created a great debate on sports shows and 24-hour news networks alike this weekend, with opinions on his act coming from all sides of the spectrum.
Head coach Jack Del Rio was asked to weigh in on the issue following Monday’s practice, and said standing during the national anthem is an organizational request. Del Rio recognized U.S. citizen’s right to express themselves, but said there’s a better avenue to do so than while representing an organization.
“The best way to look at it is that, in America, we as individuals all have freedoms,” Del Rio told reporters Monday. “That’s one of the things that makes our country great. We may not always like or appreciate that someone is expressing themselves. For us, it’s more about recognizing that you’re part of an organization and you’re representing it.
“Our organization believes that you should pay respect to the flag. Save those individual decisions to express yourself for an individual forum. That’s how we feel, in talking with Mark Davis about how our team and organization feels about it. That’s in line with my thinking as well."
Del Rio also pointed out that the Raiders have always been a progressive organization, hiring the NFL’s first African-American head coach in Art Shell, the first Latin-American head coach in Tom Flores and Amy Trask as the first female CEO.
Quarterback Derek Carr is friendly with Kaepernick, and said he respects the rival quarterback’s right to speak his mind but that he wouldn’t consider doing the same.
“Colin has been a great guy to me, nothing but genuine, nice and kind,” Carr told reporters. “…My stance on it is that we all have freedoms to do what we choose, and that’s the way he’s choosing to do certain things.
"For me, I’ve had some family in the military and things like that, and I’ll always stand (during the national anthem). If he wants do it a certain way, he has the right to choose that whether people agree with it or not. He’s standing up for something he believes in. For me, I’ll stand (for the national anthem).”