While football players across the country are protesting during the national anthem, New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. made a point to show his appreciation for the military during the team’s Oct. 3 Monday Night Football game against the Minnesota Vikings.
Military members were on-hand at the game to hold the giant American flag during the national anthem, and Beckham made a point to shake each of their hands afterwards, Sporting News reports.
“The line was a little long...” he said with a laugh while recalling his time standing alongside the single-file line of soldiers as they exited the field. “...I got halfway through it and I had to ask one of them, ‘How many is y’all?’”
“‘There’s a lot of us,’” Beckham recalled the soldier said, of which he replied, '"Well, I really appreciate what y’all do.’”
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After San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began protesting against social and racial injustices during the national anthem at his team’s games by not standing or taking a knee as the anthem is played, many NFL players and athletes have followed suit.
At the Oct. 3 game, not a single player on the New York Giants or Minnesota Vikings protested during the national anthem.
That may change for Giants players.
Following the shooting death of African-American Terence Crutcher by Tulsa, Oklahoma, police, some Giants players are reportedly considering protesting.
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“As of right now we’re not doing anything different, but that could change,” linebacker Keenan Robinson told Newsday in mid-September. “We are guys who have a voice, and we understand our voice is seen and heard across the world.”
“Will it? Can it?” running back Rashad Jennings said when asked if Crutcher’s death will sway his teammates to act. “It very well can.”
Jennings had not yet decided if he would join the national anthem protests.
“Privileged people need to defend and actually voice out, not the oppressed,” he said. “That’s just complaining. The people who are privileged need to voice it themselves and say: ‘This isn’t right.’ That’s what Kaep’s doing, that’s what a lot of people are doing. That’s what my whole conversation with Kaep was about, understanding where he’s coming from. And I support that 100 percent.”
Giants head coach Ben McAdoo said in August that he would be disappointed if one of his players did not stand for the national anthem.
“We consider it a small gesture to those who served and sacrificed their lives for our country and for us to play and coach in this great game,” he said. “It’s their choice. It’s not mandatory, but we feel it’s important.”
The importance of showing respect for members of the military is what prompted Beckham’s actions during the Oct. 3 game.
"For someone to sacrifice everything that they have for others, just the concept of it, it gives me chills," Beckham told Sporting News. "I don’t even know how to explain it. They sacrifice everything. It’s unselfish.”
"Whether it’s right or wrong, they do it and I appreciate it,” he added.