PHOENIX — Patriots Martellus Bennett and Devin McCourty held up fists at the end of the “The Star-Spangled Banner’’ before Sunday night’s game against the Cardinals, joining players across the NFL in making personal expressions during pregame ceremonies.
All players on both the Patriots and Cardinals stood for the national anthem, and Senator John McCain was at midfield for the coin toss. McCain stood with Arizona coach Bruce Arians during the national anthem.
Several players across the NFL made statements during pregame ceremonies Sunday, following the lead of 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who sat down during the national anthem at a preseason game to protest racial inequality. Four Dolphins players kneeled during the national anthem and Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters raised his fist during the anthem, as did several Titans players. The Seawhawks locked arms during the anthem.
‘‘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,’’ said Miami’s Jelani Jenkins. ‘‘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.’’
Peters wore a black glove, and his gesture was reminiscent of the podium salute at the 1968 Olympics by Tommie Smith and John Carlos.
‘‘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 . ‘‘I still have some family in the struggle. All I’m saying is we want to educate those, the youth that’s coming up.’’
Meanwhile, Bennett and McCourty’s teammate, Danny Amendola, lent a hand during the presentation of a large American flag during the pregame ceremony. McCourty was seen wearing socks with the American flag on them during the pregame warmups.
Robert Klemko of Sports Illustrated reported early Sunday that more than 70 NFL veterans were on a group text “discussing and debating what Kaep started and what to do today.” The group included Richard Sherman of the Seahawks, Arian Foster of the Dolphins, and Martellus Bennett’s brother, Michael, according to Klemko.
Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall , a teammate of Kaepernick’s in college at Nevada, took a knee during the anthem on Thursday night.
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Jim McBride of the Globe staff and The Associated Press contributed to this report.