Colin Kaepernick may not be in the NFL anymore, but the protest movement that he started last fall is still going strong.

It’s only the preseason, but already we’ve seen two big stars—Seahawks defensive tackle Michael Bennett and Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch—sit for the national anthem, while Eagles defensive end Chris Long and Seahawks center Justin Britt have become the first white players to join the chorus.

Before the Seahawks’ game against the Vikings on Friday, Britt put his hand on Bennett’s shoulder as his teammate sat in protest.

That came a day after Long put his arm around teammate Malcolm Jenkins’ shoulder as Jenkins raised a fist during the national anthem.

Bennett said last week he’d like to see white players speak up about racial justice and police brutality, and Long and Britt seem to have stepped up.

Here’s how Britt explained his participation in Bennett’s protest:

“I want to support him,” Britt said after the Seahawks’ 20-13 win. “I want to support what he stands for and his beliefs. I’m not foolish. I’m from Missouri. I get that things are different in that area than they are in some other areas. I’m not against what the flag means and veterans. My dad was in the Army. So I’m not putting any disrespect to them. I’m just trying to understand the issues, trying to educate myself more in that regard and showing support.

“And I’m going to continue to understand what’s going on in the world and why it’s happening. Because none of it’s right. None of it’s what should be happening. I’m going to continue talking with Mike and exploring and just helping myself understand things. I wanted to take a first step tonight. And that’s what I felt like I did.”

Long was more direct after Thursday’s game, saying, “I think it’s a good time for people that look like me to be here for people that are fighting for equality.”

So it looks like even if NFL owners continue to keep Kaepernick unemployed, the quarterback’s influence will endure across the league. Two weeks into the preseason, national anthem protests are making headlines, and that doesn’t figure to stop anytime soon.

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports, MLB.com, SI.com and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.

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