It began with Colin Kaepernick two years ago. In a game against the Houstan Texans on August 14, 2016, the then-backup San Francisco 49ers quarterback sat during the national anthem.
No one noticed at first, but the backlash quickly followed. And controversy over NFL players’ decision to protest against racial inequality by kneeling during the national anthem before games has since enmeshed the country’s most popular sports league in a political and cultural firestorm. Though Kaepernick himself hasn’t played a down of professional football since January 1, 2017, hundreds of other NFL players have continued to protest during the anthem in various ways — earning the criticism of President Trump, among others.