Unretired NFL running back Marshawn Lynch suited up for his first appearance in an NFL pre-season game since 2015 on Saturday night, August 12, but it wasn't his play that captured the headlines. In fact, Lynch, like many stars across the league, sat out the opener. Rather, it was Lynch's actions just prior to kickoff that drew the media's attention, as he was spotted sitting on an orange cooler on the sidelines throughout the playing of the National Anthem.
Lynch has long been identified as one of the more rebellious figures in the National Football League. Prior to Colin Kaepernick's protest in 2016, the 5-time Pro Bowler was known for speaking his mind whenever he spoke at all. Meanwhile, the large African medallion swinging from his neck, along with other subtle pro-Black symbolism served as a reminder of who he spoke on behalf of, to those paying attention. But apparently, there were few who ever paid attention to his pregame ritual, because according to Raiders coach Jack Del Rio Lynch claims to have never stood for the Star Spangled Banner.
"Talked to Marshawn trying to make sure we're on the same page," Del Rio told the press following the game. "He said, 'This is something I've done for 11 years. It's not a form of anything other than me being myself.' I said, 'So you understand how I feel, I very strongly believe in standing for the national anthem. But I'm going to respect you as a man, you do your thing. We'll do ours.' It's a non-issue for me."