Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall takes a knee during national anthem

DENVER -- Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, a college teammate of Colin Kaepernick, took to a knee during the playing of the national anthem before Denver’s season opener against Carolina.

Kaepernick refused to stand for the anthem‚Äč during San Francisco’s preseason games, explaining it was to protest racial oppression and police brutality in the United States.

It opened a wide debate and put the microscope on a pregame tradition that has, for decades, been routine.

Marshall was standing with his hand over his heart during the anthem before a preseason game on Aug. 20.

He made no mention of his plans for Thursday’s opener but shortly after the large American flag was unfurled, the fifth-year linebacker out of Nevada went to the end of a long row of Broncos and took a knee.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell disagrees with Kaepernick’s choice to kneel during the national anthem, but recognizes the quarterback’s right to protest.

Asked by The Associated Press about Kaepernick’s decision not to stand before games when the national anthem is played, Goodell said in an email Wednesday: “I don’t necessarily agree with what he is doing.”

“I support our players when they want to see change in society, and we don’t live in a perfect society,” Goodell added. “On the other hand, we believe very strongly in patriotism in the NFL. I personally believe very strongly in that.”

Goodell added that NFL players have a visible platform for their viewpoints. With that comes responsibility to use those platforms properly.

“We have to choose respectful ways of doing that so that we can achieve the outcomes we ultimately want and do it with the values and ideals that make our country great,” said Goodell, whose late father, Charles, was a U.S. senator.

“I think it’s important to have respect for our country, for our flag, for the people who make our country better; for law enforcement; and for our military who are out fighting for our freedoms and our ideals.”

Kaepernick wouldn’t stand for the anthem at his team’s preseason games, with San Francisco 49ers teammate Eric Reid and Seattle’s Jeremy Lane doing the same. Kaepernick has cited racial injustice and police brutality among the many reasons for his actions and said he plans to continue to not stand for the anthem during the regular season.

An unexpected side effect of Kaepernick’s controversial decision has been that sales of his jersey have skyrocketed.  

Kaepernick said Wednesday on his Instagram account that he will donate all the money he receives from his jersey sales to charity to thank fans for their support. He said he’s pleased his 49ers jersey has become the top seller in the NFL since his protest became public.

49ers’ jerseys with Kaepernick’s No. 7 are the top seller on the NFL’s e-commerce site, NFL Shop, and on the team’s merchandise page. According to ESPN.com, more Kaepernick gear was sold last week on the 49ers’ site than in the past eight months combined. The surge is remarkable given that Kaepernick is beginning the season as a backup behind Blaine Gabbert.

In addition to outselling the team’s starting quarterback, Kaepernick’s jersey has more buyers than Joe Montana’s, who led the 49ers to four Super Bowls. It’s more popular than Philadelphia Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz, who is due to make his NFL debut this Sunday versus the Cleveland Browns, and Ezekiel Elliott, the Dallas Cowboys’ first-year running back who’s already being touted as a possible Rookie of the Year


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