Tennessee Titans

Titans WR Rishard Matthews would quit playing football if forced to stand for anthem

(AP Photo/Paul Spinelli)

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Rishard Matthews said he would be done playing football when asked on Twitter if he would accept a fine or penalty if the NFL instituted a new rule for the national anthem.

Matthews has stayed in the locker room during the national anthem through the last two games in protest of President Donald Trump’s comments on NFL players.

While Matthews later deleted the tweet, his response was captured by a screen grab.

Matthews, whose father served 23 years in the Marines and whose brother, another Marine, died in Afghanistan two years ago, has been vocal in his stance against racial injustice and police brutality. His protest was launched shortly after President Donald Trump’s attacks toward NFL players who choose to protest. Matthews previously refrained from protesting in respect of his brother, but after Trump’s comments, he said his brother would understand his intentions going forward.

The NFL and NFL Players Association released a joint statement Wednesday confirming that there has been no change to the policy that recommends, but doesn’t require, players to stand for the anthem. Commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and player leadership will attend league meetings next week to discuss how to progress on social issues and discuss the subject of protesting during the anthem in a larger scale.

The Titans remained in the locker room during the anthem before their Week 3 game against the Seattle Seahawks. Matthews, the Titans’ leading receiver, has remained in the locker room alone during the past two games while the rest of the team stood for the anthem.

Last month, Matthews pledged to donate $75,000 to organizations that support oppressed communities. He has begun following the path of college teammate Colin Kaepernick, who led the charge of NFL players protesting racial injustice and police brutality in this manner.

“Moving forward, I don’t want this to be a publicity stunt,” Matthews said last month. “I don’t want to take away from what the whole protest is about, which is oppression, police brutality and inequality in this country. I fully stand with my brother Kap, and I plan to continue to do that.

“I’m tired of hearing, ‘Stick to sports.’ It comes down to right and wrong in this world. If you see wrong and don’t say anything, that’s wrong. As minorities, what do you want to happen before we say anything? They tried to have a silent protest, and look what happened. It’s your right to stand or sit down. You have that right, that freedom of speech, and you’re not allowing that to happen.”

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