Opening day in the NFL saw Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters raise a black-gloved fist during the national anthem, a protest amplified later Sunday when four Dolphins kneeled on the sideline with hands on their hearts as ‘‘The Star-Spangled Banner’’ played in Seattle.
The protests were inspired by 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the first NFL player who chose to sit and take a knee during the anthem in preseason games to call attention to what he termed the oppression of blacks and other minorities.
Peters’s gesture was the only one visible throughout the early games Sunday, as the anthems took on more significance because of the 15th anniversary of 9/11.
‘‘I come from a majority black community from Oakland, California . . . so the struggle, I seen it,’’ Peters said.
‘‘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, Jelani Jenkins, and Kenny Stills — registered their protest shortly before kickoff. All four stood at the conclusion of 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 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.’’
Several teams, including the Chiefs and Seahawks, saw their players link arms during the anthem. Peters was the last person in the Chiefs’ line and had his arm free to raise it.
Peters’s gesture was also a tribute of sorts to US sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who won the gold and bronze medals, respectively, in the 200-meter race at the 1968 Olympics. Both then appeared on the medal stands with raised, black-gloved fists throughout the US national anthem in what they called a ‘‘human rights salute.’’
The International Olympic Committee ordered Smith and Carlos expelled from the Games because of the protest.
Jets hold 9/11 tribute
The Jets held a pregame tribute in East Rutherford, N.J., for the families and victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. Several Jets players wore 9/11 memorial T-shirts with the twin towers printed on them during warm-ups, and shortly before kickoff, the Jets played a nine-minute video in the stadium featuring members of their 2001 team and their memories of 9/11.
Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga led his team out of the tunnel carrying the American flag. Moments later, Jets safety Rontez Miles did the same to huge cheers from the MetLife Stadium crowd.
New York City’s former mayor, Rudy Giuliani, was an honorary captain, along with representatives from the FDNY, NYPD, and PAPD, and the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Tower Foundation. Wayne Chrebet, Laveranues Coles, Marvin Jones, members of the Jets’ 2001 team, were also at midfield for the pregame coin toss.
Every member of both teams stood on the sideline during the singing of the national anthem.
Salsa was the order
Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz scored a 3-yard touchdown in his first game in nearly two years, and it was the go-ahead score in New York’s 20-19 road win over Dallas. The former UMass star then broke out his trademark touchdown salsa dance, which he was last able to show off on Sept. 21, 2014.
Cruz missed most of 2014 with a knee injury and all of last season with a bad calf.
‘‘You couldn’t even describe what was going through my body,’’ said Cruz, who had four catches for 34 yards. ‘‘Wanted obviously to do the dance. I’m sure I’ve got that down pat.”
‘‘Everybody just pulled for me each and every day, each and every week as we got closer to Week 1. And to score a touchdown. You just couldn’t make up a story any better than that.’’
Jaguars’ Ivory hospitalized
Jaguars running back Chris Ivory was hospitalized in Jacksonville with a ‘‘general medical issue’’ and was inactive for the team’s opener. Ivory was taken by ambulance from the team hotel to a local hospital early Sunday. He was limited in practice last week because of a calf injury, but the team said that was not related to his hospital stay. ‘‘Chris Ivory is doing well and is expected to be released from the hospital in the next day or two,’’ the Jaguars said in a statement. . . . J.J. Watt was back on the field, but not quite back to form after missing the entire preseason following back surgery. ‘‘I’m knocking a little bit of rust off, and I think as we move forward here I'll start to feel fully like myself again,’’ he said. Watt didn’t have any of the Texans’ five sacks against Chicago, but he did register three QB hits.
On Monday night, the Rams will officially represent Los Angeles for the first time since 1994, traveling to take on the 49ers. Case Keenum will start at quarterback for the Rams while No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff continues to learn . . . The Redskins’ new No. 1 cornerback, All-Pro Josh Norman, has his hands full Monday night in trying to contain last season’s NFL receptions leader, Steelers wideout Antonio Brown. Host Washington finished 28th in yards allowed in 2015.