The Broncos had 18 players kneel in front of the national anthem ahead of their Monday Night Football game against the Titans, and joined a growing number of league players who use their platform to protest racist injustice and police brutality.
Linebacker Bradley Chubb, backsliding Jerry Jeudy, Melvin Gordon, and security guards Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson were among the Broncos kneeling, while defensive linemen Jurrell Casey and DeMarcus Walker stood with their fists raised.
Malik Reed, Michael Ojemudia, Royce Freeman, Essang Bassey, P.J. Locke, Bryce Callahan, Duke Dawson, A.J. Bouye, Davontae Harris, Dre’Mont Jones, Shelby Harris, Lloyd Cushenberry and Calvin Anderson.
The team, which decided to leave decisions on pre-match protests to individual players, was one of many in the league with players kneeling to the national anthem in week 1. On the other hand, 11 Titans also knelt, while about one third of the Giants roster knelt in Monday night’s first game.
The Broncos released a statement at the start of the game, noting that the team respects and supports “everyone’s right to advocate for positive change.”
“Together with the players, we will continue to listen, grow and work to inspire change,” the statement said. “We are proud of the players and we stand behind them in the fight for equality.”
The kneeling wasn’t the only Monday night demonstration at Empower Field at Mile High. During the warm-ups for the game, the Broncos players, coaches, and staffers lined up across the 30-yard line while the Titans lined up across the goal line. Alicia Keys then sang ‘Lift Every Voice And Sing’, the black national anthem, on the stadium’s video boards.
In Thursday’s NFL opener, Kansas City and Houston players and coaches joined arms at the midfield pre-game in a show of solidarity of racism, an attempt booed by some in the Chiefs’ home crowd. While nine teams chose to stay in the locker room for Sunday’s national anthems, a third of the league had at least one individual knees during the first week.
The Broncos protest Monday is supported by a new “Broncos Inspire Change” program launched earlier this week. The initiative, which comes with an annual donation of $ 250,000 from the team to player-led social justice work, centers around education, awareness, funding, diversity, inclusion and activism.
Earlier in the summer, the Broncos also joined a handful of other NFL teams to cancel training in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The team also organized a march in downtown Denver after George Floyd’s death in the police force. custody in Minneapolis.