Players for the Steelers stayed off the field during the anthem prior to their game Sunday, except for Army vet Alejandro Villanueva, who stood outside with a hand over his heart. The Seahawks and Titans also stayed in the tunnel during the anthem.
After President Donald Trump criticized NFL players who engaged in protests during the national anthem, an unprecedented number of players joined the ranks of the protesters. Here in Philly, where Jenkins has raised a fist during the anthem since former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began protesting last summer, Eagles players locked arms with each other and with members of the front office — including team owner Jeffrey Lurie — during the pregame ceremony. Across the field, three Giants players knelt. Across the league, teams protested in different ways.
The closest comparison to these Saints is the pre-Reggie McKenzie Raiders, which was arguably the worst-run organization in the history of sports. The only thing that has kept the Saints from being looked at in the same way is the presence of Brees, who effectively has played the same role Peyton Manning did for the Colts in the late 2000s. Once Manning went down with an injury, the Colts immediately became the worst team in the NFL. These Saints likely would be no different.
Brees last year agreed to, all things considered, a very low one-year, $24.25 million contract. He did not force the Saints to use a $36 million franchise tag that would have given the team no ability to improve around him. In return for doing that, Brees got two concessions from the Saints: the inability to trade him and the inability to use the franchise tag on him in 2018. The Saints have until the day before free agency in 2018 to either work out an extension or allow him to be a free agent.