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Jermichael Finley questions Marshawn Lynch, Michael Bennett's anthem protests, then backtracks

Sporting News logo Sporting News 8/17/2017 Skylar Rolstad
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Former NFL tight end Jermichael Finley expressed strong feelings about national anthem protests by the Raiders' Marshawn Lynch and Seahawks' Michael Bennett as well as Colin Kaepernick. He later seemed to dial things down on Twitter.

First, Finley criticized Lynch and Bennett's motivation for sitting down for the national anthem before exhibition games last weekend in an interview with TMZ Sports that was posted Monday. He said sitting for the anthem was "not really in their heart that they want to do that" and called the protests a "marketing tool" for the players.

MORE: Bennett calls on white NFL players to protest, too

Lynch didn't say much about his reasons for sitting during the anthem, but Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said Lynch told him it was "not a form of anything other than me being myself."

After Bennett sat for the national anthem before an exhibition against the Chargers, he said, "I want to be able to use this platform to continuously push the message ... of how unselfish you can be as a society. How we can continuously love one another and understand that people are different; and just because they're different, it doesn't mean that you shouldn't like them."

STEELE: If NFL tried to send message, players aren't listening

Finley also echoed the words of Michael Vick in criticizing Kaepernick. When asked if he really thought the former 49ers quarterback, who knelt for the anthem last season and has been searching for a new team since March, wasn't true to his cause in kneeling for the anthem, Finley said, "I do. He's wearing the afro, the afro puff. Come on, man, cut that off your head. Braid it up or something."

Vick later apologized for his comments. Finley? Sort of.

On Wednesday, Finley tweeted the following two messages. The first seems to allude to his comments on the anthem protests. The second, posted two hours later, appears to be Finley taking a step back from what he said in the interview.

Finley spent his entire five-year NFL career with the Packers and retired in 2015.

Later Wednesday, Finley's wife, Courtney, ripped her husband's comments in a Twitlonger post.

"The athletes (foremost people) you are telling to sit down (or stand) and shut up are the very men that are protesting for your safety and equality in a country that has nearly revoked that right based on your skin color," Courtney Finley wrote.

Courtney Finley called Jermichael's words "absurd and offensive" and pledged her gratitude toward players who use their platform to "to fight for our community's justice, safety, & equality."

Jermichael Finley © (AP Photo) Jermichael Finley
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