Matthew Stafford, Deshaun Watson kneel during anthem before Lions-Texans Thanksgiving game

Players have knelt during the national anthem throughout the entire season

Matthew Stafford and Deshaun Watson were among the players on the Detroit Lions and Houston Texans, respectively, who knelt during the national anthem before their Thanksgiving Day matchup Thursday.

Players have knelt during the national anthem since the first week of the NFL season after a summer of racial tension and protests after the deaths of several Black people in police-involved incidents.

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NFL broadcasts showed the protests during the anthem during the start of the season but tapered off as the season continued.

Stafford explained to reporters earlier in the season why he was kneeling during the anthem.

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“Just felt like it was the right thing at the right time,” he said in September via MLive. “Obviously it’s been an amazing offseason just for our team, for a lot of people, something where there’s been great opportunity for growth and learning and understanding, and just felt like it was the right thing for me.”

The Texans made a statement before their opening game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The team chose to stay in the locker room during the playing national anthem and the Black national anthem. They then joined Chiefs players in a “moment of unity.”

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The demonstrations were a part of the league’s effort to promote social justice issues. The league had painted “End Racism” in teams’ end zones as well.

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