The Miami Dolphins will stay in the locker room during the playing of the national anthem and the black national anthem before their 2020 season opener Sunday against the New England Patriots, ESPN reported.
The NFL, attempting to participate in the social and racial justice demonstrations that have escalated over the past four months, will play "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing," which is known as the black national anthem, as well as "The Star-Spangled Banner" before Week 1 games.
The Dolphins are opting to not participate in either ceremony, saying they're not interested in any more "empty gestures" that don't contribute toward real and lasting change.
"This attempt to unify only creates more divide," Dolphins players said in a video released Thursday. "So we'll skip this song and dance, and as a team we'll stay inside. We need changed hearts, not just a response to pressure. 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."
In their video, Dolphins players said they want team owners to use their wealth and political influence to push for legislative change, such as prison and police reform.
BREAKING NEWS: The @MiamiDolphins players will stay inside for both national anthems. They express their discontent… https://t.co/cSJ6nd0Hpe— Jay Williams (@Jay Williams) 1599777250.0
Much of the conversation surrounding social justice in the NFL has been hung up on the pregame national anthem. Since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the anthem to raise awareness about police brutality against minorities, players on numerous teams have continued that protest — a demonstration that is divisive among fans, and has turned some away from the league completely.
The Dolphins players feel the emphasis on symbolic gestures during the national anthem has become an obstacle to substantive social justice reform, so they are responding by performing a different, perhaps more dramatic symbolic gesture during the national anthem, and producing a video to announce it ahead of time.
The game is scheduled at 1 p.m. ET in Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
During the NFL season opener Thursday night between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans, the Chiefs players stood for the anthem, while the Texans stayed in the locker room. When the two teams locked arms on the field as social justice messages were displayed on the scoreboard before kickoff, some fans booed during a moment of silence.
"I didn't fully understand that," Texans defensive end J.J. Watt said of the booing. "There was no flag involved. There was nothing other than two teams coming together to show unity."