Protests during the anthem in football have primarily been an NFL story.
But Gyree Durante, a sophomore backup quarterback for Division 3 Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania, was booted from the team following a vote of team leaders after Durante took a knee during the national anthem on Saturday. Durante was the only player at the small private liberal arts college to take a knee during the anthem after the team reportedly decided to take a knee prior to the anthem, and then stand for the anthem itself.
“At some point in life, there’s going to be a time when you’ve got to take a stand,” Durante said to NBC 10 in Philadelphia. “For me it just happened to be on Saturday afternoon.”
Like the other protests and demonstrations during the anthem that have drawn reactions from the public and President Trump, Durante says his decision to take a knee was aimed at promoting awareness to social injustices and race issues plaguing the nation to this day.
A statement from Albright University says the decision to remove Durante from the team was made by the team’s leadership council and was supported by the coaching staff.
“One football player, who unbeknownst to the coach and the team, chose not to support team unity and has been dismissed from the team,” the statement from a school official said. “He remains a valued member of the Albright College student body.”
It would seem the issue here is more on a broken trust between Durante and his teammates. Two Albright players claim Durante voted in favor of the team’s decision to take a knee as a team during the pregame coin flip and stand for the anthem.
“We trusted him throughout the week, after time and time again he told us he would stand,” Albright defensive end Josh Powell said. “When you can’t have a player on a team that you can trust, he’s got to go.”
A backup quarterback at a Division 3 school is one thing. But what remains to be seen is how other schools and teams may react should a player go against any team decision or league-mandated order to stand for the anthem. The focus can quickly shift to the bigger picture this weekend with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones suggesting players will be benched if they kneel during the national anthem.