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NYPD officers support Colin Kaepernick at rally

Police officers in New York City are throwing their badges behind polarizing figure Colin Kaepernick.

The former football star came under heavy criticism for kneeling during the national anthem last year and remains unsigned by any team.

On Saturday, a group of NYPD officers showed up at an event in support of Kaepernick.

Sgt. Edwin Raymond told the New York Daily News: “What Colin Kaepernick did is try to bring awareness that this nation, unfortunately, has ignored for far too long. ... And that’s the issue of racism in America and policing in America. We decided to gather here today because of the way he’s being railroaded for speaking the obvious truth.”

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Officers wore black shirts with #WeStandWithKap scrawled across their chests. Supporters of the quarterback insist that he’s been blackballed for his behavior.

One said, “The fact that Kaepernick is not in the NFL has nothing to do with stats on the football field.”

Even legendary NYPD officer Frank Serpico returned to his old stomping grounds to attend the rally and show his support for the former 49er. He said, “I am here to support anyone who has the courage to stand up against injustice and oppression anywhere in this country and the world.”

In related news, filmmaker Spike Lee made headlines two weeks ago when he tweeted that would be a rally for Kaepernick in New York City called “United We Stand,” taking place on Aug. 23.

Seahawks' Michael Bennett sits during anthem: 'It's about being a human being'

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett on Sunday said he sat Saturday as the national anthem played before his team’s preseason game against the Chargers in Los Angeles because he wanted to use his platform to stand against injustice.

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Bennett told reporters he sat to send a message about racial inequality and that the deadly clashes between protesters and counterprotesters Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia, played a role in his decision.

“I just want to see people have the equality that they deserve, and I want to use this platform to continuously push the message of that,” he said. “It’s more about being a human being at this point.”

Bennett sat on the bench with a towel over his head Sunday while the rest of the Seahawks locked arms during the anthem — as they did all of last season — ESPN reported.

The Seahawks were in Los Angeles on Saturday, taking on the Chargers in both teams’ preseason opener.

>> Related: Trump condemns KKK, white supremacists days after deadly Charlottesville attack

Bennett’s former Seahawks teammate, current Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch, did not stand on Saturday when the national anthem played before the Raiders took on the Arizona Cardinals.

After that game, Oakland coach Jack Del Rio told reporters that he had spoken to Lynch about not standing.

>> Related: Oakland Raiders RB Marshawn Lynch sits during national anthem

“He said, ‘This is something I’ve done for 11 years. It’s not a form of anything other than me being myself.’ I said, ‘So you understand how I feel. I very strongly believe in standing for the national anthem. But I’m going to respect you as a man. You do your thing; we’ll do ours.’ So, that’s a nonissue for me.”

>> Related: This is not my Charlottesville. Hate doesn't win in my hometown.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the first to draw attention for his failure to stand for the anthem, although the first time he did so, last preseason, it didn’t get much notice.

Later in the 2016 preseason, he told NFL Media that he was “not going to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

“To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way,” he told NFL Media. “There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

>> Related: Who is James Alex Fields Jr., suspect in deadly Charlottesville car attack?

Bennett refused to stand one day after protesters clashed in Charlottesville. Police said 20-year-old James Alex Fields, described by a former teacher as a fan of Adolf Hitler, slammed a car into two stopped vehicles and protesters opposing a white nationalist rally on Saturday. The attack killed one woman, identified by police as 32-year-old Heather Heyer, and injured 19 others.

The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Oakland Raiders RB Marshawn Lynch sits during national anthem

It only took one game for Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch to make headlines in his return season.

Lynch staged a protest by staying seated during the playing of the national anthem before his team’s preseason game Saturday with the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium.

ESPN reported that Lynch was spotted sitting on a cooler while holding a banana during the anthem.

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The typically mum Lynch didn’t offer any comments to the media after the game, but Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said he spoke to the tailback afterward and wasn’t aware that he was planning to stay seated.

“(Lynch) said, ‘This is something I’ve done for 11 years, it’s not a form of anything other than me being myself.’ I said, ‘So, you understand how I feel. I very strongly believe in standing for the national anthem, but I’m going to respect you as a man. You do your thing and we’ll do ours. So, that’s a non-issue for me,” Del Rio said, according to ESPN.

Related: Seahawks’ Michael Bennett sits during anthem: 'It's about being a human being'

Lynch is following in the footsteps of unemployed quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is still an unsigned free agent. Kaepernick sparked controversy for some by kneeling during the national anthem as a form of protest during the beginning of the 2016 season. Lynch was retired last season when Kaepernick’s protest made national headlines.

In September, Lynch spoke about Kaeperick’s protest while on Conan O’Brien’s late night show.

“I’d rather see him take a knee than stand up, put his hands up and get murdered,” he said.

The Raiders lost to the Cardinals 20-10 in their preseason opener, and Lynch did not play.

Dallas Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott suspended by NFL for 6 games

The NFL announced on Friday that it is suspending Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott for six games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.

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A yearlong investigation into allegations that Elliott assaulted a former girlfriend in 2016 led to the decision, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. During that time, Elliott was involved in a number of incidents that also contributed to the suspension.

Elliott was videotaped pulling down a woman’s top at a bar in Dallas during the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Last month, Elliott was also involved in another incident at a Dallas bar.

Though he was not arrested or charged with a crime in either incident, the NFL decided to look at the “accumulation of behaviors” while conducting its investigation. That shift in the nature of the investigation gave the NFL more wide-ranging authority to discipline the Cowboys star for conduct detrimental to the league.

The Cowboys, the NFLPA and Elliott will now have the opportunity to appeal the NFL’s decision. If they are denied, they may even choose to take the matter to a higher authority.

Elliott was cleared by the Columbus, Ohio, Police Department of any wrongdoing in the alleged domestic violence case because it considered the witness to be unreliable. The alleged incident also occurred before Elliott was selected in the 2016 NFL draft.

However, both bar incidents occurred this past offseason and have established a pattern of behavior the NFL is deeming unacceptable.

New England Patriots buy two Boeing 767 planes for away games; first NFL team to do so

The New England Patriots will be flying in style to NFL games this fall.

ESPN reported that the Patriots have bought two Boeing 767 wide-body jets. They are the first NFL team to buy their own planes to fly to games.

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Airlines are in the process of retiring the bigger planes, which are near a point at which they require more money to meet current Federal Aviation Administration requirements, making them cost-prohibitive

The planes have been restyled to have all first-class seats, some of which completely recline. Emblazoned on the outside of at least one of the planes is a giant team logo on the body and five Lombardi trophies on the tail.

The team confirmed the news on Twitter.

Stacey James, Patriots spokesperson, confirmed that one plane will be used as the main plane for the season, while the other will serve as a backup.

When the planes are not being used, the team will rent them out.

Photos: 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony

Morton Andersen, Terrell Davis, Kenny Easley, Jerry Jones, Jason Taylor, LaDainian Tomlinson and Kurt Warner were inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Aug. 5, 2017.

Police drop charges against former Cowboys receiver Lucky Whitehead

Police in Prince William County, Virginia, have rescinded a warrant to arrest former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Lucky Whitehead.

“Upon reviewing the June 22, 2017, arrest of an individual named ‘Rodney Darnell Whitehead, Jr.,’ the police department is confident that the man charged with petit larceny, and who is subsequently being sought on an active warrant for failure to appear in court, is not Lucky Whitehead of the Dallas Cowboys,” said a statement from the Prince William County Police Department. "The police department regrets the impact these events had on Mr. Whitehead and his family."

>> Read more trending news

TMZ reported Monday during the Cowboys’ morning walk-through that the receiver was arrested for shoplifting on June 22 and had a warrant out for his arrest after failing to appear for a July 6 court date.

When informed of the matter, Whitehead said he knew nothing of it and the allegations were false.

In a press conference, coach Jason Garrett said the Cowboys had just discovered the situation as the walk-through was concluding and that the team would “respond accordingly.”

Later that day, the Cowboys released him.

When Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones was asked if he had spoken with Whitehead’s agent about the possibility of it being a case of mistaken identity, as was being reported from Whitehead’s camp, Jones said, “I’m not going to comment on that.”

Whitehead was the example the Cowboys used to demonstrate accountability after an offseason that has seen defensive end David Irving suspended for a performance-enhancing drug policy violation, linebacker Damien Wilson arrested on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and running back Ezekiel Elliott allegedly involved in a night club incident.

Lucky Whitehead cut from Dallas Cowboys after link to shoplifting arrest

Dallas Cowboys receiver Lucky Whitehead has been cut, sources tell

WFAA-TV reporter Joe Trahan was the first to report the third-year receiver had been let go.

The news came just minutes after NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Dave Rich, Whitehead’s agent, said it was near logistically impossible for Whitehead to have committed a June 22 shoplifting for which he was allegedly arrested in Prince William County, Virginia.

According to The Associated Press, Prince William County police said Rodney Darnell Whitehead Jr., 25 – Whitehead's real name – was arrested about 1:30 a.m. June 22 for stealing about $40 of items from a convenience store.

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Police couldn’t confirm that the man was the NFL player, but records matched his birthdate, the AP reported.

According to online records, a court date was missed July 6, leading to another charge. Another court date was set for Aug. 10.

Rich claimed that this was a case of mistaken identity, the AP reported. Whitehead told reporters that he “didn’t know about” the incident.

Rich told Rapoport that Whitehead could not have been in the area because he didn't fly to Virginia until 7:20 a.m. June 22 – several hours after the incident reportedly took place.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ole Miss football coach made phone call to number tied to escort service

University of Mississippi football coach Hugh Freeze announced his resignation Thursday night after school officials cited personal conduct issues that included a one-minute telephone call to a number associated with a female escort service, USA Today reported.

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The phone call was raised as a potential issue in a legal battle between the school and former Rebels coach Houston Nutt, who filed a lawsuit July 12 alleging that Ole Miss violated the terms of his severance agreement. Nutt’s attorney, Thomas Mars, sent an email to Ole Miss general counsel Lee Tyner, mentioning a “phone call Coach Freeze made that would be highly embarrassing for all of you and extremely difficult to explain,” USA Today reported.

School Chancellor Jeff Vitter, announcing Freeze’s resignation at a news conference, called it a “sad day” for the university.

“While Coach Freeze served our university well in many regards during his tenure, we simply cannot accept the conduct in his personal life that we have discovered” VItter said. 

Athletics director Ross Bjork said the resignation did not involve NCAA allegations but was based on a pattern of inappropriate conduct, USA Today reported.  Ole Miss put a self-imposed postseason ban this season and is already is operating with self-imposed scholarship reductions. The school faces the outcome of an NCAA investigation that traces back to 2012, ESPN reported.

Bjork said the phone call was brought to his attention last week.

“Because the call lasted less than one minute and did not appear at the time to be part of a pattern, we initially attributed this call to a misdialed number,” Bjork said. “We proactively looked into the rest of his phone records. In our analysis, we discovered a pattern of conduct that is not consistent with our expectations as the leader of our football program. As of yesterday, there appeared to be a concerning pattern.”

Freeze went 39-25 at Ole Miss and took the Rebels to a Sugar Bowl victory. He also guided Ole Miss to a pair of victories against Alabama when the Crimson Tide was ranked in the top three nationally.

Matt Luke, the team's co-offensive coordinator and line coach, was named interim coach on Thursday.

Michael Vick criticizes Colin Kaepernick’s hair: ‘Try to be presentable’

Michael Vick released a statement on Twitter defending his comments on Colin Kaepernick.

>> Read more trending news 

In an appearance on FS1's "Speak for Yourself" on Monday, the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback said if Kaepernick wants to repair his image from last season’s national anthem protests, he should cut his hair.

Vick’s statement on Twitter addressed the criticism aimed at his comments and said he did not intend to be malicious. 

"Colin Kaepernick's hair has nothing to do with him not being on a NFL roster right now,” Vick wrote. “Let's be clear! I wish only the best for Colin. I stand by what I've said about him being signed at some point this season to help a NFL club. I think he is a great kid who has a bright future and I'm looking forward to seeing him on the field again. Trust and believe what I said was not in malice."

On “Speak for Yourself,” Vick said Kaepernick needs to look “presentable” if he wants to get a job off the field, which incited fans to attack Vick’s comments on Twitter.

“First thing we gotta get Colin to do is cut his hair. I’m not up here to try to be politically correct but, even if he puts cornrows in it, I don’t think he should represent himself, in that way, in terms of hair style. Just go clean-cut. What he needs to do is just try to be presentable,” Vick said. “I just think perception and image is everything. This is not the Colin Kaepernick that we’ve known since he entered the National Football League. I’m just going off my personal experiences. Listen, I love the guy to death. But I want him to also succeed on and off the field. This has to be a start for him.”

Vick said his opinions come from being able to relate to being judged by physical appearance.

Kaepernick was drafted to the San Francisco 49ers in 2011 and was signed with the team until March. He is a free agent and hasn’t been signed by another team.

Brianna Chambers contributed to this report.

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