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Colts head coach Frank Reich takes knee, players lock arms during national anthem

In a symbolic statement, Frank Reich was the sole member of the Colts team to take a knee before the first game of the season on Sunday.
Credit: Phelan Ebedhack
Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich, center, kneels the national anthem during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

INDIANAPOLIS — Minutes before kickoff, Colts players stood in unity as the national anthem played while head coach Frank Reich took a knee. 

Ahead of the season opener, the Colts put out a statement about racial equality on Twitter saying they will not be silent, neutral or passive.

The statement further explains why the team responded the way they did to the anthem. 

"... To be clear we're not protesting the flag, the anthem or the men and women who wear the uniform. The timing of this action is meant to highlight the presence, power, and oppression of racism remains inconsistent with the unity and freedoms of what it means to be an American." 

To read the full statement: 

The Colts said that kneeling isn't a symbol of defiance but rather of humility taken by the white community "to acknowledge that injustice and inequality is present, and to find the courage and resolve to make the changes needed." 

Following the game, 13News Sports Reporter Taylor Tannebaum asked linebacker Darius Leonard about his thoughts on Reich kneeling: 

“That definitely means a lot. We’re not talking to the Black community, we’re talking to white men who are in power," Leonard said. "Frank is the leader of this team and he’s in power to his team and we’ve got to take that step forward and he’s the one who says ‘You know it starts with me.’ You never know how it amplifies so it definitely means a lot for someone like that to step up and say ‘OK, I’m going to take a stand for you guys.’ That definitely means a lot and that’s why we stand behind Coach Frank, he stands behind us, and we all stand together. ..." 

RELATED: Colts lose Rivers debut to Jacksonville 20-27

Reich addressed the decision to kneel in his post game media conference. "Before we get started and get any questions about the game, (I) just want to briefly address our team statement during the national anthem. Just say that we will continue to bring attention to systemic racism and the injustice that our Black communities are enduring and we will continue to demonstrate our convictions to support and uplift our Black communities," he said. 

"This decision was made by players and coaches collectively," Reich went on. "It was a well-thought-out process in a stance that supports our belief in making a meaningful change."

Reich addressed questions about why he took a knee again on Monday afternoon. He said it's about the white community stepping up and trying to make a difference.

"It's always going to be hard to please a lot of people or all the people, but you have to do...I believe everybody has to do what is in their conscience," he said. "As far as backlash, I'd rather not get into that. I mean, I will say I've gotten some encouraging notes from some people. There have been some negative things, but all in all, I don't look at too much of it anyway."

The Colts lost Sunday to the Jacksonville Jaguars 20-27. The Jaguars were not on the field for "The Star-Spangled Banner."