The NFL kicked off its preseason Thursday night with the annual Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio -- with all players and coaches from the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens standing during the national anthem.
"We as a group talked about it and decided that was what we were doing," new Bears coach Matt Nagy said. "It's for unity and togetherness. The guys are really excited to come up with one deal as a team. They were all out there; from what we talked about, it happened."
The NFL modified its national anthem protocol in May, prohibiting any sort of demonstrations for 2018, but allowing players to remain in the locker room during "The Star-Spangled Banner" if they chose to. Individual teams would be responsible for disciplining any demonstrators.
The players' union filed a grievance about the policy change, and late last month, the new policy was put on hold while the NFL and NFL Players Association work on a resolution.
"We come from so many different backgrounds and experiences, so it’s going to be hard to figure out one solution that fits everyone," Bears outside linebacker Sam Acho, who is the team’s NFLPA representative, told the Chicago Tribune.
"But the great thing about a team is when you do something for your brothers, you’re doing it for yourself. And so even if you don’t believe wholeheartedly in some issue(s), you believe in your teammates. So you do it for your teammates," he said.
"And so even if you don’t believe wholeheartedly in some issue(s), you believe in your teammates."
The demonstrations began when then 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem in 2016 to protest racial inequality and social injustice. The kneeling and other displays of protest spread leaguewide the following season.
Thursday night's Hall of Fame game honored great past linebackers from each team -- Ray Lewis from the Ravens and Brian Urlacher from the Bears. Both are among this year's group of Hall inductees.
Baltimore held on to win the game, 17-16.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.