Saying they're tired of 'empty gestures' in the fight for racial equality, Miami Dolphins players released a video announcing they will remain in the locker room for both the 'The Star-Spangled Banner' and 'Lift Every Voice and Sing' anthems prior to the team's season opener in New England on Sunday.
Similarly, the Houston Texans stayed off the field for both songs before Thursday night's NFL season opener in Kansas City. League stadiums are playing 'Lift Every Voice and Sing,' considered by many to be the 'black national anthem,' before each Week 1 game of the new season following commissioner Roger Goodell's admission in May that the NFL should have listened sooner to players' concerns about racism.
The Dolphins' video, which was released by ESPN's Jay Williams on Thursday, shows head coach Brian Flores and 18 of his players demanding action and disparaging what they see as symbolic actions and ineffective demonstrations.
'This attempt to unify only creates more divide,' several Dolphins players said in the edited video. 'So we'll skip this song and dance, and as a team we'll stay inside.'
SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEO
Dolphins defensive tackle Christian Wilkins was among the 18 Miami players on the video
Albert Wilson of the Miami Dolphins kneels during the playing of the national anthem prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Hard Rock Stadium on December 1, 2019
The Dolphins' video, which was released by ESPN's Jay Williams on Thursday, shows head coach Brian Flores (pictured) and 18 of his players demanding action and disparaging what they see as symbolic actions and ineffective demonstrations
Miami players also called out owners, who they feel have been slow to use their influence.
'We need changed hearts, not just a response to pressure,' they said. 'Enough, no more fluff and empty gestures. We need owners with influence and pockets bigger than ours to call up officials and flex political power.'
The Dolphins are owned by billionaire Stephen Ross, who has made political contributions to President Donald Trump, a vocal critic of protesting NFL players.
Specifically, Dolphins players stressed that they want to move the conversation away from the anthem in favor of more meaningful change.
'We don't need another publicity parade,' safety Bobby McCain said. 'If you speak up for change, I'll shut up and play.'
Linebacker Elandon Roberts summed up the dilemma for African-American athletes, who are upset over the killing of black people by police, but also care for the country's military.
'So if my dad was a soldier but the cops killed my brother, do I stand for one anthem and kneel for the other?' he asked.
The following transcript comes from a video posted on social media by ESPN's Jay Williams, showing edits of 18 Miami Dolphins players and head coach Brian Flores explaining why they will remain in the locker room before Sunday's game against the New England Patriots:
Is it authentic? That's the mystery. Or is it just another symbolic victory?
Now, there's two anthems. Do we kneel or do we stand?
If we could just right our wrongs, we wouldn't need two songs.
We don't need another publicity parade.
So we'll just stay inside. Until it's time to play the game.
What happened to all the funds that were promised?
All of a sudden, we got a glass pocket?
The bottom line should not be the net profit.
You can't open your heart when it's controlled by your wallet.
Decals and patches, fireworks and trumpets. We're not puppets.
Don't publicize false budgets.
Ask the pundits, and we shouldn't have a say.
If you speak up for change, then I'll shut up