Over the past two seasons, as players around the NFL (first Colin Kaepernick and then many others) have peacefully protested by kneeling during the anthem — in order to bring attention to social and racial justice causes — no Jets player has kneeled. They have all stood.
In 2018, with the league’s new anthem policy in place, left tackle Kelvin Beachum expects the Jets to continue what they did last season — the arm-locking show of unity during the anthem.
“Yeah, most likely,” Beachum, one of the Jets’ veteran leaders, told NJ Advance Media. “At the end of the day, we as a team committed to do things in the community. Our way of showing unity is doing what we’ve done in the past, and we’ll probably continue doing it this year.”
Beachum, who spoke Tuesday after the Jets’ fourth organized team activities practice, said he isn’t sure when the Jets will meet to finalize their anthem plans for 2018.
Last season, they met as a team and came up with the arm-locking show of unity. They are expected to meet as a team again this year and decide on what to do. (And it sounds like it’ll probably be the arm-locking thing again.)
They obviously have plenty of time, since their first preseason game isn’t until Aug. 10. They open the regular season Sept. 10 in Detroit.
Under the policy, teams are fined if players don’t stand while on the field for the anthem. (Players are now allowed to remain in the locker room for the anthem, if they don’t want to stand.) Teams can punish players (including fines) for not standing on the field during the anthem — passing along a fine imposed by the league. Johnson said he will not do this.
Johnson voted for the new policy, but he met with the Jets’ players last week and told them he will support whatever they do. He will not punish players for refusing to stand during the anthem. Johnson is willing to absorb any potential fine.
“Me personally, I think they’re kind of missing the point,” he said. “For us, as a team, nobody on our team kneeled. Yet that doesn’t mean we don’t support the causes of why people are kneeling.”
Beachum and quarterback Josh McCown are involved in the Players Coalition, a social justice advocacy group of NFL players that has communicated with the owners during the anthem protest discussion. The Jets refused to make McCown available to reporters Tuesday.
Johnson is the Jets’ acting owner because his older brother, Woody Johnson, is currently serving as President Donald Trump’s ambassador to the United Kingdom — a position Woody received after prominently supporting Trump’s election.
Trump has vulgarly criticized NFL players who kneel during the anthem. He has said players should be required to stand. He continued to rip protesting NFL players after the league’s new anthem policy came out last week.