Raiders' Jack Del Rio says NFL protests didn't affect outcome of game against Redskins

LANDOVER, Md. -- The Raiders' nearly teamwide protest during the national anthem prior to Sunday night's nationally televised game atWashingtonwas a one-time display, several Oakland players said after the game.

So don't expect a Raiders repeat on such a grand scale this Sunday inDenver.

Plus, the Raiders said that their protest -- in the wake of President Donald Trump's comments on Friday night calling an NFL player who chose to sit or take a knee during the song and presentation of the nation's colors a "son of a bitch" who should be "fired" -- had nothing to do with them getting embarrassed by theRedskins in a 27-10 loss.

"No, I don't think so," Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said Monday in his weekly media conference.

Asked if he sensed any extra emotion before the game, Del Rio was even more succinct.

"No," he said.

The Raiders' planned teamwide show of unity was scuttled as they initially were going to stay in the tunnel as a team during the anthem, but it ran too close to the coin flip and opening kickoff, due to the tight timing of the prime-time game.

Instead, most of the Oakland defense sat together on one end of the bench, their arms interlocked. The coaching staff stood, arms interlocked. And the Raiders' offensive line -- the only all-minority unit in the NFL -- was split between sitting on the bench and kneeling in a semicircle.

It seemed to fit the parameters set forth by Raiders owner Mark Davis, who earlier Sunday told he was fine with his players protesting, so long as they did it with "class" and "pride" at FedEx Field.

"I wish I didn't have to do anything like that," said Raiders left tackle Donald Penn. "I've been standing [for the anthem] all the time, but when you get called out personally by the president of your country, you've got to do something. I didn't want to do that; I don't think my teammates wanted to do that. But it's something we had to do.

"We've got disasters going on in Florida and Puerto Rico, and Houston's trying to rebuild, and [Trump is] worried about us with a silent, peaceful protest. When the people in Charlottesville had all this, he didn't call them sons of bitches. He didn't call them a--h----. You know what I mean?"

Penn mentioned the $27 million raised by Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt for Houston hurricane victims as an example of good deeds being done by NFL players.

"This had nothing to do with disrespecting the military or the flag," Penn said. "I have the utmost respect for them. Because you will not see me over there shooting no guns. So I have so much respect for them and what they do. It had nothing to do with that. I hope they understand that. This all had to do with President Trump's comments. That's the only reason we did that.

"If somebody calls you out like that, you've got to do something ... see how we're giving Trump all this power. I don't want to give him that. I don't even want to talk about him no more."

Raiders left guard Kelechi Osemele agreed with Penn in that their "peaceful protest" was not meant to disrespect military members.

"There are people who laid down their lives to give us the right to be able to represent our freedom of speech," Osemele said. "That's really -- that's what it's for. That's why people laid down their lives. So for us, it was just us exercising that right."

Penn said he did not plan on sitting again in Denver and that his point was made in Washington. Same with Osemele.

"It's just a one-week thing, and it was a response to something that was said [by Trump]," Osemele said. "We're back focused on football and, you know, life goes on. We're not going to give it any more attention."

Right tackle Marshall Newhouse echoed his teammates' sentiments and shared Del Rio's reluctance to give credence to the notion that the Raiders were distracted, saying, "It has nothing to do with how we played."

The Raiders' defensive struggles against the Redskins had many observers looking at the protest for potential answers. Not even quarterback Derek Carr, who stood for the anthem and appeared to pray by himself and then had one of the worst games of his career, was sure about the protest's impact.

"I really hope not, but you never know," said Carr, who threw two interceptions, including on his first pass of the game, after not having been picked off in his previous three games. He also was sacked four times, behind what has been one of the more dominant offensive lines in the NFL.

"You don't know what's going on in everybody's head and all those things," Carr explained. "But for me, it did not."
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