Four Jaguars were not on the field for the national anthem, staying away until the song finished. Running back Leonard Fournette didn’t want to talk about his decision, saying, “It’s a personal thing, and I don’t want to get into it, but everyone has their own beliefs in certain things.”
But linebacker Telvin Smith went into great detail about why he chose to do what he did, pointing out, unsolicited, that he wore his Salute to Service cleats for the game.
“As a man, I’ve got certain beliefs, but this is not going to become a distraction in Jacksonville,” Smith said, via quotes distributed by the team. “This is not going to become a distraction for this team. I’ve got beliefs. I did what I did. I don’t know if it’s going to be every week; can’t answer if it’s going to be every week. But, as a man, I’ve got to stand for something. I love my team; I’m dedicated to my teammates and that’s what we’re talking about. I did what I did; it was love. I hope people see it and respect it. I respect views.
“I love the military, I wore my Salute to Service cleats today. It’s love, and we’re just going to move forward and move forward in the preseason. It’s about that we lost a game. We’ve got to get this team prepared, this roster prepared, and move forward in the season. No more questions about the beginning of the game.”
Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said he was unaware Smith, Fournette, Jalen Ramsey and T.J. Yeldon had stayed behind for the start of the anthem until just before arriving to the podium for his postgame press conference.
“The only thing I can say is that the NFL and the NFLPA are obviously working together on [a policy],” Marrone said. “I don’t know if. . . . My knowledge is there’s nothing out there right now on what the players can do. I think I made it clear that, for me, I’m always going to stand with my hand on my heart, and I think that the people that don’t, then they’ve got to answer to it, to the media.”