ENGLEWOOD, Colo.—Evaporating endorsements and burning T-shirts won’t deter Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall from continuing to kneel during the national anthem in support of Colin Kaepernick’s protest of social injustices.
“Yes, I will kneel again on Sunday,” said Marshall, who will meet with Denver police Chief Robert White on Tuesday to discuss his call for better police training and treatment of minorities.
“It should create some good dialogue,” Marshall said Monday after losing his second endorsement over his stance and learning a fan had burned a T-shirt outside team headquarters in protest of Marshall’s anthem kneel down.
Marshall has received plenty of support over his decision to join Kaepernick in his cause but he’s also been the target of vitriolic comments on social media since taking a knee during the national anthem prior to Denver’s 21-20 win over Carolina on Thursday night.
“It’s an evil world. It’s a hateful world. 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. “I’m a likable guy. I was once a fan favorite for a reason. It’s cool, because people can call me N-word or cuss at me or say they wish I would break my neck all they want. There’s no backlash from me. Hate can’t drive out hate. Only love can drive out hate.”
CenturyLink said in a statement on its website Monday that the company respects Marshall’s right to express his beliefs but feels the national anthem was an inappropriate venue.
“America is anchored in the right of individuals to express their beliefs. While we acknowledge Brandon’sright, 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,” the company statement said. “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.”
The termination of the six-week-old endorsement deal follows the Air Academy Federal Credit Union’s decision to dump Marshall on Friday. That deal was signed five months ago.
“Once again, I’m still doing what I believe in,” Marshall said. “It’s not going to make me lose any sleep. I’m still going to play football, but at the same time, do what I believe in.”
Marshall said he respects the military, which fought for his freedoms, including the rights of free speech and peaceful protest. He said some veterans have told him, “I fought for your right to stand or sit. I fought for all your rights, so I support you.”
Kaepernick refused to stand for the anthem during San Francisco’s preseason games, explaining it was to protest racial oppression and police brutality in the U.S. Kaepernick’s gesture opened a wide debate and focused the microscope on a pregame tradition that has been routine for decades.
Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters raised a black-gloved fist during the anthem Sunday in a scene reminiscent of the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, where U.S. sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised black-gloved fists on the medal stand throughout the U.S. national anthem in what they called a “human rights gesture.”
A trio of Tennessee Titans — Pro Bowl defensive lineman Jurrell Casey, cornerback Jason McCourty and linebacker Wesley Woodyard — raised their right fists after the national anthem and four Miami Dolphins kneeled on the sideline with their hands on their hearts as “The Star Spangled Banner” played in Seattle. McCourty’s brother, Devin, raised his fist along with Martellus Bennett before New England’s win in Arizona on Sunday night.
“It was good to see that,” Marshall said. “Even the guys who put their fists up. They didn’t want to kneel, but that’s fine with me.”
Marshall said he’s spoken with Kaepernick, a college teammate of his at Nevada, “and he said that he appreciated what I did and … He’s trying to change some laws and he’s trying to donate to some groups that are doing work at the ground level. One of my end games is I will try to create a program that goes with that as well.”