Before a game on Oct. 15, members of the Millikin University football team made the decision to sit out the national anthem and remain in the locker room until they were needed on the field for kickoff.
While the anthem played, one player remained on the field, and he is now being hailed for his display of patriotism.
Offensive lineman Connor Brewer chose to buck the trend set by his teammates and coaches and stand on the field alone for the anthem.
In late September, Brewer’s teammates received criticism after several of them took a knee for the national anthem. Instead of sparking more controversy, the team decided unite together in the locker room.
The players joined a growing list of athletes across the nation who have followed the lead of Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers. Kaepernick has been sitting out the national anthem since the end of the summer as a protest against systemic racism in the United States.
“Rather than have our message be misunderstood or misconstrued, we are united in our decision to stay in the locker room until kickoff during which time we will engage in a moment of reflection to personally recognize the sacrifice of so many and renew our commitment to living up to those most important words: ‘with liberty and justice for all,’” the team wrote in a statement.
According to WGNTV, Brewer is holding back on speaking to the media for now, but could soon talk about his decision to stand. The university has so far declined to comment.
According to WAND17, reaction to the initial protest was mixed among the Illinois private school’s community.
“It might be a good decision on their behalf, I don’t know their reason for it to be exact. But I can’t judge anybody’s decision, so it might be a good decision on their behalf,” Millikin fan Ahmaad Mathews said.
“If some don’t agree with the national anthem, then they should stay in the locker room and come out when it begins. I don’t think the whole team should have to stay in because I don’t think the whole team feels that way,” another fan added.