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NFL Players Show Pregame Solidarity Gestures

Solidarity

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(AP) With their index fingers in the air, players at four of the early NFL games Sunday, including four-time MVP Peyton Manning, showed their solidarity in support of the union in collective bargaining negotiations.

At Houston, Jacksonville, Tampa, and Orchard Park, N.Y., players held up their index fingers before kickoff, replicating the gestures made by the Saints and Vikings before Thursday night’s season opener in New Orleans.

No such gestures were done at the New Meadowlands Stadium, nor in Foxborough, Mass., Chicago, Pittsburgh or Nashville.

The demonstrations are designed to show the support players have for each other in the final year of the CBA, from which the owners opted out in 2008.

At Houston, about a dozen Colts, led by Manning, and nearly all of the Texans held up their index fingers just after the national anthem. Fans briefly booed the gesture.

But in Orchard Park, home of the Bills, numerous fans took note and some also raised their fingers. Most Bills players stepped off the sideline and onto the field with their index fingers raised toward the Dolphins. About three-quarters of the Dolphins then did the same.

In Jacksonville, several Jaguars and Broncos walked toward middle of field near the hash marks with one finger raised after the national anthem. And in Tampa, players from both the Buccaneers and Browns came off sideline and held up one finger before the coin toss.

Earlier this week, Colts coach Jim Caldwell acknowledged seeing what the Saints and Vikings did.

“I’m a product of the ’60s, probably much like many of us in this (media) room, so signs of solidarity are nothing unique and different,” Caldwell said. “And I’m not sure if there are any plans to do anything like that here.”

Obviously there were.

Jets fullback Tony Richardson, a longtime key union figure who coincidentally was released by the Jets in the final preseason cut, then re-signed, likes what he has seen.

“Well, I think, that obviously was a great start,” Richardson said. “Our offensive line has been talking about one team, one voice, one heartbeat. That’s not going to change. We all stand together. Just like the owners, they all stand together.

“The biggest thing is we want to get some work done, so it’s not like us versus them. It’s the fact that we have a great working relationship and we want to continue that working relationship. We understand that it’s a process, it’s a negotiation, and we just have to keep working on it.”

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