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AP photo by Mark Zaleski / Houston Texans wide receiver Kenny Stills kneels during the national anthem before a game against the Tennessee Titans on Dec. 15, 2019, in Nashville.

NFL players who want to kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racism have far more support than Colin Kaepernick did four years ago.

Still, such demonstrations might not be widespread — for a few reasons.

If organizations insist on unity, as some coaches and front-office executives have mentioned, that could be a hurdle.

Another potential drawback is the growing belief among some players that kneeling is no longer necessary to raise awareness because George Floyd's death has ignited nationwide protests against racial injustice and police brutality.

Lastly, some team owners might still have a problem with it despite the league's support of the players.

"Whatever our team ends up doing, we're going to support. But we're going to do it together as a team," Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard said.

Cleveland Browns coach Kevin Stefanski, Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur and several other coaches also expressed their support of the players but mentioned they want it to be a team decision.

"That's something that I promise you we will spend as much time as necessary as an organization listening to each other, understanding each other, and then we'll make a decision together," Stefanski said.

Said LaFleur: "We're going to support them and what they want to do, provided that it's peaceful."

Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson and Chicago Bears safety Jordan Lucas have already said they plan to take a knee during "The Star-Spangled Banner" this season. Other players, white and black, are waiting to discuss it with their teammates.

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AP photo by Mark Zaleski / Washington Redskins running back Adrian Peterson stands for the national anthem before a game against the Tennessee Titans on Dec. 22, 2018, in Nashville. Peterson has said he plans to take a knee during "The Star-Spangled Banner" this season.

Getting an entire roster to agree collectively is a tough task regardless of the topic. Starting quarterbacks Jared Goff of the Los Angeles Rams and Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons, both white, recognize the importance of unity.

"I stand fully behind whatever it is that's decided, and I do want to push for change, so I'm fully behind whatever the leaders on the team decide to do, and I'll be part of that discussion as well," Goff said. "We'll come to a decision collaboratively."

Ryan is eager to have those conversations.

"It's about unity within our team and having that discussion and creating an open forum for teammates to talk about what that means to them and how they're going to act appropriately," Ryan said.

Many players have said they're willing to do whatever their team decides, but not everyone agrees it has to be a team decision.

"It should definitely be left up to the individual," Lucas said.

San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman understands all of his teammates aren't going to handle it the same.

"To each their own," he said. "People will empathize with one another and have that brotherhood even if they don't protest the same way."

Quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the 2018 NFL season MVP who led the Kansas City Chiefs to a Super Bowl victory over the 49ers in February, looks at the bigger picture.

"It's not about who kneels and who doesn't; it's about having the right to peacefully protest and knowing that racial inequality happens every day, and I just want the community to be where everybody, including the black community, can be safe," he said. "Whatever that takes."

When Kaepernick began his peaceful demonstration in 2016, he wanted to highlight the problems of police brutality and racial injustice. He faced immense pushback and was ostracized from the league. President Donald Trump criticized Kaepernick and other players who took a knee and still insists they're disrespecting the flag, the country and the military.

While many others, including Drew Brees, who initially shared similar thoughts have come to understand and support Kaepernick's intentions, there's still going to be opposition.

"I don't know if (kneeling) will have the most net positive outcome because of the way it gets so, such a hyper-partisan issue, really because they don't want to talk about the real issue," Los Angeles Chargers running back Justin Jackson said. "Nevertheless, I think if we just use our platforms like we are now to continue to expose and advocate for the change we want to see in society, that might be the best method going forward. But we'll see."

In a video released last week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell condemned racism, apologized to players for not listening to them earlier and encouraged them to protest peacefully.

But Goodell only consulted with "a select few" team owners, and it's not known how many share his views. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones strongly opposed kneeling when Kaepernick began the movement, and he hasn't spoken on the matter recently.

"We'll have to see," Dallas cornerback Jourdan Lewis said about Jones backing off his stance. "We always come together as a team and we talk about these issues. And it hasn't been to a point to where we cut a guy because of that. So we'll have to see. Protesting is always the best bet to raise awareness. But we definitely have things to strive past this protest. And we have to go into these communities and help these people."

Everyone, it seems, agrees change is needed, though.

"Almost every single black guy that I've played with that is on the team right now they've all dealt with something at some point, whether it's with the police or another interaction of just blatant racism," said Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill. "So really it's sickening to me that they have to deal with that type of thing, and I want it to change. I want it to change. I want everyone to get the justice and equality that they deserve."

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