Thanks to Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, the 2016 NFL games officially kicked off with a social justice agenda lingering over the league, with him sticking out as the lone player to take a knee while the National Anthem played for the season opener. It was a decision that might have crossed Marshall's mind in the weeks since Colin Kaepernick set the example in the pre-season, but said he didn't make until the very moment his teammates convened for the ceremony. Now, the world is witnessing the 27-year-old defenseman facing the repercussions an American might face from private entities when they exercise their right to free speech in public.
One day after helping the defending champs reassert themselves against Carolina in a thriller, Marshall learned that he has been stripped of his endorsement deal with Air Academy Federal Credit Union. Marshall faced the badgering of legions of fans on social media following his protest, with many cheering and wishing the worst when he went down on a play that had trainers testing him for signs of a concussion. On Friday, September 9, AAFCU dealt a second blow, announcing that they will be cutting ties with Marshall in a statement that read: "Although we have enjoyed Brandon Marshall as our spokesperson over the past five months, Air Academy Federal Credit Union (AAFCU) has ended our partnership. AAFCU is a membership-based organization who has proudly served the military community for over 60 years. While we respect Brandon's right of expression, his actions are not a representation of our organization and membership. We wish Brandon well on his future endeavors."
How the threat of losing sponsor dollars might now impact the decision of players that had planned to follow the course with Kaepernick, Eric Reid, Jeremy Lane, and now Marshall, remains to be seen. There has been word that the entire Seattle Seahawks team was planning an action, although it was not confirmed whether it would involve the National Anthem. There is a good possibility that come Sunday we will see several others take a knee in games around the league, although it falling on September 11 may inhibit many from participating. Whatever the case, Marshall stood by his decision and clarified that his fight was not against service men and women.