Come Monday night, Courtland Sutton will be kneeling for the national anthem.
The Broncos decided to leave peaceful protests up to individual players prior to the season opener against the Titans, and the wideout says he will be on one knee in order to make sure two of the country’s most pressing issues don’t fade from the conversation.
“The understanding now is, if you kneel, it’s not because you hate America or because you dislike the military or are being disrespectful to them,” Sutton said. “You’re kneeling because of the police brutality and the unjust racism that is going on in this country. We (football players) are using our platform to continue to bring light to that situation.
“I’m going to use my platform whatever way I possibly can — whether it’s through social media or on Monday night when we have a game — because I want to use it to bring awareness to what’s going on. People might say the awareness might already be brought, and people see (the issues) now, but I don’t technically agree that everyone understands what’s going on in our world.”
Sutton’s comments come a day after the team announced a series of social justice initiatives through a new “Broncos Inspire Change” program. The initiatives come with an annual $250,000 donation from the team to player-led social justice work, which will revolve around education, awareness, funding, diversity, inclusion and activism.
On Aug. 27, the Broncos joined a handful of other NFL teams in canceling practice as a response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis. Earlier in the summer, following the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, around 50 Broncos players (including Sutton), as well as about 20 coaches, participated in a march in downtown Denver as a show of community support.
Sutton emphasized he has no issue with teammates who chose to remain standing for the anthem.
“Everyone has their own personal reasons for why they may stand, why they may kneel,” Sutton said. “The thing that I know is, everyone is going to do what they feel comfortable (with) in order to voice their opinion about what’s going on in the country right now… We’re going to support each other (no matter what). We know the guys that stand aren’t against what the guys are kneeling for.”