ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Five UNM football players took a knee during the national anthem during the school’s homecoming game against Air Force, sparking a lot of conversation.
Team captain Garret Hughes, Stanley Barnwell Jr, Michael Swell, Elijah Lilly and Kimmie Carson all took a knee as the Star Spangled Banner played Saturday night.
“I like that people are making a statement with kneeling. Sadly, people against it are making it something about disrespecting the flag,” said Lobo fan Alan Trevizo
The protest took head coach Bob Davie by surprise, who said had he known the anthem was going to be played, he would have talked to the team first. He didn’t elaborate on what he would have said to them, though.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever been in a game when the national anthem was played at the halftime of the game,” said Davie
Teams stay in the locker room during pre-game ceremonies at the majority of college football games. A lightning delay postponed the song to halftime.
“I wouldn’t want to judge or have too much of a critique, at least speaking from my standpoint as a total football team,” said Davie.
The protest against social and racial injustice began last season with then-49’er Colin Kaepernick. It recently gained traction among pro-athletes. Especially after president Donald Trump criticized players who take a knee during the anthem. Suggesting that team owners should fire them.
While many support the demonstration, others said it’s disrespectful to veterans. Some commented on the five Lobos’ choice to do it against the Air Force Academy, of all teams.
“It was a bit striking they would have the gall to that,” said UNM fan Stephan Franco.
Some people took to Facebook, saying that they plan to boycott the Lobos.