Standing, kneeling or gesturing in support of Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protests has come at a cost for the dozen NFL players who have joined the cause against social injustices. They’ve faced vitriolic reactions, forfeited some of their fan base and lost endorsements.
None is deterred by the backlash.
“It’s worth it,” said Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, insisting that while he’s disheartened by evaporating endorsements, Twitter trolls and the burning of a T-shirt in front of team headquarters this week, he’s also undaunted.
“It’s an evil world. It’s a hateful world. I’m not here to spread hate. I’m not here to respond to the hate. I’m here to spread love and positivity,” Marshall said. “I’m a likable guy. I was once a fan favorite for a reason. It’s cool, because people can call me n-word or cuss at me or say they wish I would break my neck all they want. There’s no backlash from me. Hate can’t drive out hate. Only love can drive out hate.”
Detractors accuse protesting players of being unpatriotic or disrespecting the American flag. Marshall said he’s also gotten lots of love from military veterans saying they fought for his right to peacefully protest as much as they did for those who stand and salute the Stars and Stripes.
Marshall played at Nevada with Kaepernick, who began this movement last month by refusing to stand for the anthem during San Francisco’s preseason games as a protest to what he calls racial oppression and police brutality in the United States.
Marshall has faced financial repercussions for taking a knee during the national anthem on opening night.
Marshall lost endorsements from the Air Academy Federal Credit Union and CenturyLink before music mogul Russell Simmons offered him a deal with Rushcard this week.
“I’m proud of what I did because I didn’t do anything wrong or hurtful by any stretch,” Marshall said.
That’s not what many critics are telling him and others who have joined Kaepernick.
Devin McCourty raised his fist along with Martellus Bennett before New England’s win in Arizona.
“We waited until after the national anthem,” explained Bennett, who was born on a Navy base in San Diego. “I support the flag. I love America. I don’t want to live anywhere else. But there’s still some [messed up things] going on around the world.”
Marshall, who has pledged to donate to military charities, met with Denver police chief Robert White this week. Marshall accepted his invitation to participate in a shoot-or-don’t-shoot training simulator and to go on a ride-along with police officers.