Sitting on an orange cooler and nibbling on a half-eaten banana on Saturday night, Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch became the latest pro athlete to protest racism and police brutality during the national anthem.
Lynch didn’t speak publicly about the gesture after the game, which was his first since returning from retirement. But in September, he told talk show host Conan O’Brien that he supported quarterback Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the anthem.
Lynch wasn’t in the NFL when Kaepernick knelt in protest — and sparked a movement among athletes in his sport and others.
“I’d rather see him take a knee than stand up, put his hands up and get murdered,” Lynch told O’Brien, standing and putting his hands up as if facing the police.
“My take on it is, [stuff], it got to start somewhere and if that was the starting point, I just hope people open up their eyes and see that it’s really a problem going on and something needs to be done for it to stop. If you really not racist, then you won’t see what [Kaepernick is] doing as a threat to America, but just addressing a problem that we have.”
After Saturday’s game, Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio told reporters that he didn’t think Lynch’s sitting would be a distraction, according to the Arizona Republic, and said the gesture was “a nonissue for me.”
“I talked to Marshawn to make sure we’re on the same page and 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. “I said, ‘Just so you understand how I feel. I very strongly believe in standing for the national anthem, but I’m going to respect you as a man, you do your…