Five New Mexico players knelt for the national anthem as it was played after the first half of the team’s game against Air Force.
Lobos Stanley Barnwell Jr., Kimmie Carson, Garrett Hughes, Elijah Lilly and Michael Sewell Jr. took a knee. Below are pictures of Barnwell and Sewell taking a knee. Next, we’ll explain why the anthem was played after the first half and why the players were on the field.
— Geoff Grammer (@GeoffGrammer) October 1, 2017
College football teams are typically not on the field for the pregame playing of the national anthem. But Saturday’s game saw the pregame ceremonies wiped out because of lightning and the game was delayed for approximately an hour because of lightning after the first quarter.
The New Mexico band then played the national anthem after the conclusion of the second quarter — halftime was shortened because of the lightning delay — and the five players took a knee. New Mexico coach Bob Davie was surprised that the situation took place.
“We’ve never been out there for the national anthem, and the agreement was that there wasn’t going to be a national anthem played,” Davie said of Air Force coach Troy Calhoun and the head official.
“I didn’t even know that it was going to be played when it was played. I’m not sure our players knew. So again, I’d like to have the opportunity to visit with our players, talk about what our stance would be, unify it as a football team. I kind of got shocked by that.”
Calhoun, like any reasonable person, recognized that the players had the right to take a knee. Remember, the practice of kneeling during the national anthem began as a protest against racial injustice and not against the anthem itself or the United States military. That false narrative has been pushed by President Donald Trump in recent weeks and has caused many Americans to conflate the reasons for the protests.
“That’s their right,” he said. “They live in a country where they’re allowed to do that. We’ve got service members all over the world currently and who have served so if somebody chooses not to stand, they’re allowed to. There’s no law and there should be no law and it should be your choice.”
Northwestern players entered the field before Saturday’s game at Wisconsin with their arms locked together. Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said he commended NFL players peacefully protesting in the name of equality.
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