On August 14, 2016, Colin Kaepernick sat down during the national anthem in a preseason game. What eventually followed that moment was both unprecedented and remarkable. The NFL passed a new rule requiring players stand on the field or stay in the locker room. Fines and penalties will follow if players do not stand on the field. This would seem to put an end to the debate, but that is not the case. The debate and the protests are far from over. How exactly did we get here?

2016 timeline

On August 14 and August 20, 2016, Colin sat during the anthem.

However, it wasn't until August 26 that people started asking questions. According to ESPN, he said, "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way."

September 1- After meeting with former Green Beret Nate Boyer, Kaepernick decided to kneel as opposed to sitting. "We were talking to [Boyer] about how can we get the message back on track and not take away from the military, not take away from fighting for our country, but keep the focus on what the issues really are. And as we talked about it, we came up with taking a knee. Because there are issues that still need to be addressed and it was also a way to show more respect to the men and women who fight for this country"

On this same date, teammate Eric Reid also joined him on one knee.

A rival from the Seattle Seahawks, Jeremy Lane also sat during the anthem.

September 4- United States Women's National Team soccer star Megan Rapinoe also knelt before a game in the NWSL, as a nod to Kaepernick. She, along with Kaepernick, Reid and Lane, was met with harsh backlash. The league then decided to play the anthem while both teams were in the locker room, so as to bar her protest.

September 9- Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall also took a knee. The protest was gaining traction around the league and even into other sports. Marshall lost two sponsors after doing so.

September 11- Four Miami Dolphins knelt during the anthem after standing for a 9/11 acknowledgment. The entirety of the Seattle Seahawks locked arms while standing in unison.

The Kansas City Chiefs did so as well, with Marcus Peters holding up a single fist. Two members of the New England Patriots also held up a fist.

September 16- An entire high school team from Seattle, including coaches, knelt for the anthem. One of their coaches stated, "If we could start addressing the issues and finding solutions to the issues, we won’t have to kneel."

September 21- During a WNBA game, the Indiana Fever knelt and locked arms.

October 11- Leah Tysse, who was performing the anthem before a Sacramento Kings game, knelt while singing.

2017 timeline

March 1- Colin Kaepernick (perhaps foolishly) opts out of the final year of his contract and becomes a free agent. He is still unsigned today.

August 12- Marshawn Lynch comes out of retirement, signs with the Oakland Raiders and sits during the anthem.

September 22- Donald Trump publicly voiced his displeasure saying, at a rally, he would like to see the owners fire people who knelt. He doubled down on Twitter.

September 24- The following Sunday, NFL teams seemingly upped the ante. Many entire teams demonstrated some form of protest, including some teams staying in the locker room. In the MLB, Bruce Maxwell, a catcher for the Oakland A's, knelt. He was the first baseball player to kneel.

October 17- The NFL and the NFLPA met to discuss a potential rule change that would require players to stand. No rule was voted on or passed at this meeting, however.

2018 Timeline

March 23- Eric Reid's contract expires and he remains a free agent to this day with little to no offers or meetings in place.

May 23- The NFL's owners unanimously vote and approve a new rule for the national anthem. The rule states that a team will be fined if any player fails to stand on the field, during the anthem. The teams can then fine the player or personnel responsible. However, they would be permitted to remain in the locker room.

May 28- A report from Shaun King surfaces that some players are planning to sit out the season if Kaepernick and Eric Reid remain unsigned.

They are hoping to get 25 percent of the league to follow suit.


It would seem, perhaps to the naked eye, that the NFL found it's compromise. Players can stand on the field or stay off. Make no mistake, though, this is no compromise. And it certainly is not the end. New York Jets CEO said he would not fine any players or personnel who protest. Several players have said they will continue to protest and simply pay the fines.

But let's not bury the NFL. It was truly a very difficult situation. On one hand, many fans and obviously the owners believed that people should stand. Some even stopped watching as a result of the protest, and the NFL had very low ratings in comparison to years past.

On the other hand, the players were very passionate about it and remain so. The other portion of fans is also in agreement with the players. So, what's a multi-billion dollar corporation to do in this situation?

The old adage "stuck between a rock and a hard place" rings true in this situation. Does the NFL choose to alienate the owners and the fans who want them to stand? Do they alienate the players and suppress their voices? The NFL made its choice. It sided with the owners and fans who want players to stand. Perhaps it's due to the poor ratings (which may or may not be directly related to the protests) and the backlash from many, including the President himself.

We also shouldn't really blame the NFL.

It's important to remember that there is seemingly no win here. You truly can't please everyone and the NFL had to make a choice. Where the real mistake was made, however, was in branding this new rule as a compromise. It is far from it. It is exactly what it says it is. The NFL's hand was forced, and this is the response. But this debate is far from over.