Each week, Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph meets with his leadership council, which is comprised of captains and other veteran players.
A primary topic Wednesday was out of the norm: The National Anthem. The leadership council decided the team would stand during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner on Sunday prior to the Broncos' AFC West Division game against the Oakland Raiders.
After multiple Denver Broncos players joined dozens of others across the NFL in kneeling during the national anthem last Sunday – sparking a national conversation with heated opinions on both sides – the team issued a statement Thursday afternoon saying from here on out, they will stand for the National Anthem.
The full message the team posted on Instagram:
"Last week, members of our team joined their brothers around the NFL in a powerful display of unity. It was an emotional time for everyone, including the fans who support us each and every week. As controversial as it appeared, we needed to show our collective strength and resolve.
"Our voices needed to be heard loud and clear. Make no mistake -- our actions were in no way a protest of the military, the flag, or those who keep us safe. We have nothing but the deepest love and respect for those who protect our way of life and the freedoms we enjoy as Americans.
"While there's no greater country, it's not perfect. Inequalities still exist, and we have work to do in all forms of social justice. We can all do better.
"Our locker room is one diverse place, and that's what makes it so special. It's where thoughtful, intelligent leaders from all different races, religions and backgrounds come together. We may have different values and beliefs, but there's one thing we all agree on"
"We're a team and we stand together -- no matter how divisive some comments and issues can be, nothing should ever get in the way of that.
"Starting Sunday, we will be standing together.''
It would not be a surprise if there wasn't at least some healthy discussion among Bronco players on the matter. At least half the team took a knee during the Anthem on Sunday in Buffalo as a protest to the profane rhetoric used by President Trump during a political rally in Alabama.
Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall said Monday he didn't think they could get every player on the team to do the same thing during the Anthem.
“Everybody’s not going to kneel,’’ Marshall said. “I didn’t read all of (Derek) Wolfe’s comments but I saw of them, he’ll never kneel. You’ll never have everybody kneel. Everybody could stand.’’
Asked if perhaps the players could stand and interlock arms, Marshall said: “That means nothing. In my opinion, that means nothing if we all stand and lock arms. I mean I understand that’s showing unity, I just don’t see the point in that. Me personally.’’
It doesn't appear the Broncos will stand with locked arms, but address the playing of the National Anthem as usual.
A post shared by Denver Broncos (@broncos) on
The protests throughout the NFL last week were sparked by comments from President Donald Trump, who said at a political rally that players who kneel during the national anthem in protest of social injustice are “sons of b-----“ who should be “fired.”
Denver Broncos coach Vance Joseph told the media that he hoped next weeks’ games can be more about football than politics and general manager John Elway sent out a statement Tuesday night also stating a desire to take "politics out of football.''
"Hopefully we can move past this and play football, because politics and football don't mix in my opinion,” Joseph said Monday. “I am a football coach, they are football players, and our job is to win football games. Hopefully we can get back to that this week.”
I'd be surprised if all agreed w/decision to all stand for Anthem. Half kneeled Sunday. But this was likely only unified action. #9sports— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) September 28, 2017
Joseph went on to say that while he believes in standing during the anthem, he supports his players’ right to peacefully protest.
This was a statement mirrored by Broncos Chief Executive Officer Joe Ellis, who issued a statement Saturday night supporting his players for taking a stand on social issues.
In the message released by the Broncos players on Thursday, they said some chose to kneel because “we needed to show our collective stretch and resolve.”
You can read the full Denver Broncos statement here: http://bit.ly/2fUeb8t