SPORTS

Columnist Calls Out Marshawn Lynch To Explain National Anthem Sitdown

"If Lynch chooses not to explain ... he surrenders any power a protest might have."

08/14/2017 07:42 EDT | Updated 08/14/2017 10:50 EDT

Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch appeared to take a page out of Colin Kaepernick’s playbook and not stand for the national anthem before Saturday night’s preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals.

He was photographed sitting on a cooler and holding a banana, prompting memories of last season when then-49ers quarterback Kaepernick sparked a national debate over his anthem demonstrations to protest racial injustice and police brutality.

Lynch didn’t address his move, but the San Francisco Chronicle’s Scott Ostler wrote in a Sunday column that he should.

“It would be nice if he clues us in, because sitting out the national anthem is a big deal. While waiting for word from Planet Marshawn, here’s my wild guess:

The sit-down wasn’t unintentional or accidental. Lynch has a distinctive style. He runs hard into people on the field, and he runs hard into authority off the field, and he makes no apologies.

If he is protesting, here’s one thing I would like to know: Lynch’s sit-down took place a few hours after the violent ugliness in Charlottesville, Va., and after the president of the United States declined to condemn the hate groups responsible for the deadly violence.

Is Lynch protesting that violence? Is he protesting in support of Colin Kaepernick, who remains unemployed even though NFL teams are now signing backup quarterbacks from beach pickup games?

If Lynch chooses not to explain his sit-down, he surrenders any power a protest might have.”

Raiders coach Jack Del Rio relayed an exchange with Lynch after the game. “He said, ‘This is something I’ve done for 11 years — it’s not a form of anything other than me being myself,’ ” Del Rio said, per the San Jose Mercury News. “I said, ‘So you understand how I feel, I very strongly believe in standing for the national anthem, but I’m gonna respect you as a man. You do your thing, OK, and we’ll do ours.’ ”

Pro Football Talk disputed the claim that sitting was a longtime habit of Lynch ― but a stronger clue of where he stands (or doesn’t stand) on the issue was a September interview with Conan O’Brien in which he expressed support for Kaepernick’s move.

Meanwhile, Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett made clear his motives for not standing for the anthem in Sunday’s exhibition game against the Los Angeles Chargers. Bennett said it would be the start of a season-long protest against intolerance. “I hope that I can activate everybody to get off their hands and feet and go out into the communities and push helping each other,” he said, per NFL.com.

Now you have the ball, Marshawn. Run with it. 

For Scott Ostler’s full column, visit here.