News & Politics

NFL Anthem Protester Loses Endorsements

(AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

Brandon Marshall, a linebacker for the Denver Broncos and Colin Kaepernick’s teammate at the University of Nevada, took a knee during the national anthem at the team’s season opening game against the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night. That protest is going to cost him.

Two local businesses withdrew from endorsement deals they had with Marshall, but the player insisted he will continue with his protest.

Denver Post: 

“We completely respect Brandon Marshall’s personal decision and right to take an action to support something in which he strongly believes,”CenturyLink said in a statement. “America is anchored in the right of individuals to express their beliefs. While we acknowledge Brandon’s right, we also believe that whatever issues we face, we also occasionally must stand together to show our allegiance to our common bond as a nation. In our view, the national anthem is one of those moments. For this reason, while we wish Brandon the best this season, we are politely terminating our agreement with him.”

As Marshall and his teammates practiced at the Broncos’ Englewood facility Monday morning, a man pulled up to the team’s headquarters and set ablaze an orange T-shirt with Marshall’s name written in ink.

“It’s an evil world. It’s a hateful world,” Marshall said. “I’m not here to spread hate. I’m not here to respond to the hate. I’m here to spread love and positivity.”

Marshall said he will kneel again for the anthem Sunday, when the Broncos host the Colts in a Week 2 matchup. He has spoken with Kaepernick about “the end game,” about taking steps to effect change in the community and beyond. And he said he has taken initial steps to formulate a plan locally, starting with a meeting with Denver police chief, Robert White.

“People that aren’t minorities, they don’t know what it’s like to be a minority in this country,” he said. “And I’m not saying it’s terrible. I love this country. We have great opportunities, but at the same time, if you’re not a minority you don’t understand. I speak for everybody when I say that, because I know they agree with me.

“I’m a likable guy. I was once a fan favorite for a reason. It’s cool, because people can call me the N-word or cuss or at me or say they wish I’d break my neck all they want. There’s no backlash from me. Hate can’t drive out hate. Only love can drive out hate.”

That was well put by CenturyLink, acknowledging Marshall’s inherent right to protest while giving an entirely reasonable and rational reason to oppose him.

But what Marshall, Kaepernick, and the rest of the anthem protesters fail to realize is that their narcissistic protest draws attention to them, not the issues they’re protesting. Marshall signed a 3-year, $26 million contract so the loss of a few thousand dollars in local endorsements will hardly lower his standard of living. And for every counter protester who burns a jersey, there are two that buy one.

The team, the league, and most of the media are all behind him. In short, he risks nothing. And if a few yahoos speak hatefully about him, there are many more who praise him.

But that doesn’t fit the narrative. The protesters must appear embattled. They must appear to be persecuted. They must be seen “speaking truth to power” despite the fact that “the power” approves of their actions. Protesting the anthem does nothing to call attention to anything or anyone except the protesters. In that sense, they are doing a disservice to their cause and should stop it immediately.