Ron Rivera supports his Washington Football Team players' decision to kneel during the national anthem, though he plans to stand himself. Instead, he plans to kneel during the coin toss and, according to a recent interview with NBC4 Sports, will wear a special tribute on his hat.
"I'm going to put the initials, 'JL' for John Lewis," Rivera said. "That way when people ask me why I'll say, 'Because he was an advocate for voter rights.'"
Lewis, who was a central figure to the Civil Rights movement and longtime United States congressman, died July 17 at the age of 80.
Lewis' efforts against racial injustice and voter suppression earned him nationwide respect from his peers and followers alike. Shortly after his passing, DC area sports figures came out in droves to pay their respect to Lewis.
The conversation surrounding the national anthem began in the NFL in 2016 when Colin Kaepernick took a knee against police brutality and the systematic oppression of Black people.
His fight and demonstrations were reignited in May following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and now that live sports have returned in America, athletes across all professional sports are once again following Kaepernick's lead.
It's an inescapable conversation to have for prominent individuals like Rivera, who later in his conversation with WRC's Leon Harris, explained the reasoning behind his anthem plans.
"After [the Panthers] signed Eric [Reid] we had a great conversation and he helped me to understand what Colin Kaepernick's protest was all about," Rivera said. "I could never kneel because of my family's background and I just believe that I shouldn't, but it helped me understand and appreciate the message they're trying to get out."
The Washington Football Team opens its 2020 season on September 13 against the Eagles at FedEx Field, where we'll surely see these demonstrations in action from coaches and players.