ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, who kneeled for the "Star Spangled Banner" before eight games last season, said he has not decided if he would kneel for the national anthem this season.
Marshall has stood during the anthem for the Broncos’ two preseason games, but both were on the road and Marshall did not play in last weekend’s game against the San Francisco 49ers.
The Broncos’ final two preseason games — Saturday night and Aug. 31 — are both in Denver, as is the regular-season opener Sept. 11 against the Los Angeles Chargers.
"I’m still thinking about that, honestly," Marshall said after practice Thursday. " …Before I took a knee last year, I decided I just don’t want to take one, I want to put some actions behind it," Marshall said. "In my opinion as long as everybody that’s doing it is out there actively doing something about it, like [Colin Kaepernick], like me, like Malcolm [Jenkins], Michael Bennett, Marshawn Lynch does a lot in his community, as long as people are actively doing something while they’re protesting, I think it’s beautiful. And it could actually have a huge impact."
Marshall, who was Kaepernick’s teammate in college at Nevada, lost two major endorsements last season as he became a flashpoint among those who agreed with his right to protest and those who believed he should stand for the anthem.
As part of his decision to kneel, Marshall also met with Denver’s police chief and Denver’s police union, the Denver Protective Association, to "try to make real change." Marshall also donated money to Denver charities for every tackle he made last season.
Marshall said he decided to stand once again for the anthem last season because, "I felt like some real change had taken place and that were a part of that."
Marshall has continued to draw highly emotional reactions on both sides of the issue on social media and in letters he receives at the team’s complex. He says more group action like the 12 Cleveland Browns’ players taking a knee in prayer before Monday night’s preseason game is a sign more players feel compelled to be involved.
"I think what I like about it is more people aren’t scared," Marshall said. "Some people were scared of it last year, they didn’t know how the team was going to look at it, the thing with Kaepernick, all of the backlash he was getting, people aren’t scared of that anymore. People aren’t scared of what the team might say or what the fans might say and I think that’s how it should be."
Marshall was also asked Thursday why, if some people in the stands at games leave their hats on during the anthem or are walking to their seats, have NFL players been the target of so much anger from the public.
"I guess because we’re in the public spotlight, you can actively see us, I guess we’re supposed to be held to a higher standard, but we all should be held to the same standard," Marshall said. "Some people don’t even stand up in the stands. But [it’s] probably because they can reach us on Twitter and know it might create — there’s a story behind it. I don’t know, because there’s a lot of people who don’t do what they’re supposed to do during the anthem."