About 20 Giants knelt while the Steelers stood in unison and held an anti-racism banner during the playing of the national anthem before their “Monday Night Football” matchup.
Giants coach Joe Judge stood between co-captains Jabrill Peppers and Dalvin Tomlinson and put one hand on the shoulder of both kneeling players. The banner read “Steelers Against Racism” and was long enough to be held by about 25 players, some of whom raised fists.
Under New Jersey’s COVID-19 restrictions, there were no fans in MetLife Stadium to react, but Giants co-owner John Mara admitted earlier this summer he knew a segment of the fan base would be outraged by kneeling during the national anthem. Mara’s preference is for players to stand but vowed to support those who feel kneeling in protest of social injustice and racism is the way to be heard.
In 2017, only three Giants – the since-departed Damon Harrison, Landon Collins and Olivier Vernon – kneeled during the anthem.
The Giants stood spread across the goal line during the playing of “Lift every voice and sing” about 25 minutes before kickoff. That is a new addition to the pregame across the league this year. Giants linebacker Lorenzo Carter, one of the most spoken players on the topic, was in tears as the team returned to the locker room.
A video simultaneously played on the MetLife Stadium big screens showing highlights of Giants players’ community service work involved in the #TogetherBlue campaign to address areas such as poverty, homelessness, education, substance abuse, criminal justice and police-community relations. The Steelers remained in the locker room during that moment.
Hours before kickoff, several Giants, including quarterback Daniel Jones, warmed up in black T-shirts that read “Injustice against one of us is injustice against all of us” on the front and “End Racism” on the back. They were designed by former Giants captain Michael Thomas, now a safety for the Houston Texans.