Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters. (Orlin Wagner / AP)

On opening day of this NFL season, Kansas City cornerback Marcus Peters raised a black-gloved fist during the national anthem and four Miami Dolphins knelt on the sideline with their hands on their hearts during “The Star Spangled Banner.”

The protests join that of San Francisco backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the first NFL player to refuse to stand during the national anthem in preseason games. As Truthdig Managing Editor Eric Ortiz wrote in an essay, Kaepernick’s “courage has sparked a national conversation on free speech and what it means to be an American in the 21st century.”

Jelani Jenkins, one of the Miami Dolphins to kneel, said on Sunday: “I chose to get involved to see if I could create change, raise awareness. And I want to make it clear that there is no disrespect to the military or to police officers — I’m not about that. I love everyone. I would like to keep moving forward in the right direction with everybody: equal rights, equal opportunity. From my position, it doesn’t seem that it’s happening. That’s why I took a stand.”

The Associated Press reports:

The Dolphins got support from one very important person — their boss, team owner Stephen Ross.

“I don’t think it was any lack of respect,” Ross said. “I think everybody here, our team and our whole organization, respects the flag and what it stands for, the soldiers and everything. These guys are really making a conversation of something that’s a very important topic in this country and I’m 100 percent supportive of them.”

Peters’ gesture was the only one visible throughout the early games Sunday, as the anthems took on more significance because of the 15th anniversary of Sept. 11 attacks.

“I come from a majority black community from Oakland, California … so the struggle, I seen it,” Peters said after the Chiefs beat San Diego 33-27 in overtime.

”I still have some family in the struggle. All I’m saying is we want to educate those, the youth that’s coming up.”

The four Miami players — Arian Foster, Michael Thomas, Jenkins and Kenny Stills — registered their protest shortly before kickoff. The four players stood while President Barack Obama’s message played regarding the 15th anniversary of 9/11 before taking a knee . All four stood at the conclusion of the anthem.

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—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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