Sept 8 Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall became the latest athlete to kneel during the U.S. national anthem in protest for social justice before his team's game versus the Carolina Panthers on Thursday.
Marshall's action during "The Star Spangled Banner" follows a series of similar protests by other athletes, led by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who did not stand for the song before his NFL team's last two pre-season games to protest against racial injustice and police brutality.
"While we encourage members of our organization to stand during the national anthem, we understand and respect it being a personal decision," the Broncos said in a statement.
Many Americans saw Kaepernick's gesture as a sign of disrespect to the flag and criticism was widespread, but he has also been supported by several fellow athletes.
Marshall, who is black, played with Colin Kaepernick at the University of Nevada and has, according to several media organizations, voiced his support for his former teammate in his ongoing protest.
"I support Colin. I support 'Kaep.' I understand where he's coming from," Marshall told The Gazette newspaper in Colorado Springs during the preseason. "I definitely see what he's saying. I support him on that."
Marshall's protest came before the first NFL game of the 2016 season, a rematch of the Super Bowl from a season ago, won by the Broncos.
ESPN reported Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak said earlier in the preseason that he wanted his players to stand for the national anthem, but respects other people's beliefs and values.
"Our guys do a great job. But I don't babysit guys. I let them handle themselves. We tell our guys: 'Be yourself. Be your best self,'" he said, according to ESPN. (Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)