Prior to kickoff of Sunday's game, players paused for the playing of "Lift Every Voice and Sing," a song also referred to as the Black National Anthem.
During that song, players from both teams stood locked arm in arm along each end zone. Later, when the National Anthem played, the Seahawks players agreed to give each other the freedom to do what was appropriate. Some players stood, while others, Black and white, took a knee, while others sat on the bench. A handful more stayed in the locker room until after the anthem was over. Jamal Adams, meanwhile, stood holding his fist in the air, a symbol for Black Power.
"I wanted to not only stand strong, I wanted to show that I'm a Black man and I'm proud to be Black," Adams said. "That's what I wanted to show, with my fist held high, knowing that other people have other decisions to make behind me. Everybody just kind of went with whatever they wanted to do. I thought Coach Pete Carroll did a hell of a job—he's been doing a hell of a job as far as just giving us the freedom to be ourselves and to use our voice, use our platform. Obviously the main thing right now for us as black athletes is to use our voice to use our platform, I think that's what it's about. So me holding my fist up in the air, that was definitely just to show that I'm proud to be Black, and I'll forever be."
With issues such as racism and police brutality at the forefront, NFL teams and players have been tackling social justice issues more than ever this year. Seahawks players warmed up in shirts that read, "We Want Justice," and players around the league wore decals on helmets supporting social justice initiatives and honoring victims of systemic racism and police brutality. The actions even carried over into the first play of the game when all 22 players took a knee while Jason Myers' opening kickoff was still in the air.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, one of many players to wear a helmet decal, honored Breonna Taylor, a woman who was shot and killed in March by police in Louisville. After the game Wilson shared why he chose to put Taylor's name on his helmet.
"I have a beautiful 3-year-old daughter, and when I think about everything that has happened in our country, it's been an emotional time," Wilson said. "An emotional time where there is a lot of hate in the world, there's a lot of disappointing things that are happening, and when I think about Breonna, I think about somebody who seemed to be a gracious person from what we hear and what we read, but also somebody who was just trying to be at home. What is going on in America is very real. It is a very sad thing. I think it important that—we need justice for Breonna. We need people to step up, our leaders in our country to be able to step up and make a change for these types of situations, especially like those. So when I think about my daughter, I get fearful because a young girl like Breonna having her life taken away is pretty difficult."
Pete Carroll has been very outspoken about combatting racism, but he noted that what took place Sunday was player-led and praised the way his team's leadership stepped up lead in the decisions on what would take place Sunday.
"That really was handled by the captains for the most part," Carroll said. "(Vice President of Player Engagement) Mo Kelly helped communicate with Atlanta so they knew what we were doing together. I thought it was a really good statement by both teams. We don't know how much we can do to help, but we are going to keep trying. We don't ever want to go back, we know that. 'Never go back' was really the thought of the day. We'll see what happens next week. I was really proud of the leadership of Bobby and Russ and Neiko and those guys to get it all wired so everybody could get comfortable with how we did it."