Many of the National Football League players who participated in the protestsagainst the national anthem and American flag on Sunday have had past run-ins with the law themselves.
In spite of their brushes with law enforcement and complaints about the criminal justice system, they are either currently making or did make a lucrative living in the league.
The 2016 NFL pre-season was the first time then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to sit for the national anthem, later turning to kneeling on the sidelines.
Almost overnight, professional football became politicized. Kaepernick said that he was using his public position as an NFL player to bring light to the social injustices black Americans experience, particularly focusing on the high-profile cases of police brutality against black men.
Since then, several other players have joined in the demonstration, which has triggered praise and disappointment from both sides of the political spectrum as well as many football fans.
After President Donald Trump denounced the protests on Friday and tweeted about the issue numerous times, NFL players, owners, coaches, and even former players knelt, sat, linked arms, raised fists, or stayed in the locker room during the singing of “The Star Spangled Banner” on Sunday.
Some of those who participated in the protest have been arrested for a variety of crimes, including:
- Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler, for battery and assault in two separate incidents in July 2017 and March 2016, respectively
- Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, for aggravated assault in March 2003 and leaving the scene of an accident and driving with a suspended license in March 2016
- New Orleans Saints running back Adrian Peterson, for injury to a child in Sept. 2014
- Kansas City Chiefs tight end Demetrius Harris, for felony marijuana possession in March 2017
- Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, for marijuana possession in Aug. 2014
- Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, for felony drug possession and reckless endangerment behind the wheel in two separate incidents in May 2014
- Seattle Seahawks practice quarterback Trevone Boykin, for marijuana possession and violating probation in March 2017 and April 2017, respectively
- Baltimore Ravens former linebacker Ray Lewis, for murder in Jan. 2000; he ultimately testified in the case and received one year of probation and a $250,000 fine from the NFL
- New Orleans Saints defensive end Alex Okafor, for evading arrest and running from the scene after police tried to detain him in March 2015
- Tennessee Titans outside linebacker Derrick Morgan, for speeding and driving with a suspended license in June 2010
- Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Artie Burns, for driving with a suspended license in June 2017
- Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller, for failure to appear in court on previous traffic charges, including careless driving and driving without a license, in Aug. 2013 and cited for driving with a suspended license in Sept. 2013
These arrest records only touch on past run-ins that protesting NFL players have had with law enforcement.
Trump’s comments criticizing players who kneel for the national anthem appears to have triggered Sunday’s spike in those joining the protest.
At a campaign rally for Alabama Sen. Luther Strange (R.) on Friday, Trump called for NFL owners to “get that son of a bitch off the field” if players kneel for the national anthem. Trump followed up those comments on Twitter, writing that players who disrespect the flag and the country by kneeling for the anthem should be fired or suspended.