Former NFL defensive back Marcus Ball believes he was released after making a subtle gesture during the national anthem while he was a member of the Carolina Panthers in 2016. It was his first game called up from more than a year spent on the practice squad and he’d be released just three days later.
Ball noted in a piece on the MMQB that he stood, honored the flag, prayed and sang, but acknowledged protests and “recent events” around the country by holding his right hand up with his index finger pointing toward the sky to God.
The move came after a black man has been fatally shot by a police officer in Charlotte and Ball noted it was not a planned form of protest.
He eventually was re-signed to the Panthers and finished the season on the San Francisco 49ers’ practice squad. Part of Ball’s issue lies with recent allegations against Panthers owner Jerry Richardson.
The 30 year old Ball was picked up as an undrafted free agent in 2014 by the New Orleans Saints.
He has not appeared in a game since his he was last active with the 49ers. He is currently playing in the Canadian Football League, as a standout for the Toronto Argonauts, winning two Grey Cups.
National anthem protests has been a sore spot for the NFL this season, with President Donald Trump vocally lashing out against players who have taken a knee.