After Colin Kaepernick's protest , Del Rio was asked his thoughts about Kaepernick's decision to sit down during the national anthem. At the time, Del Rio made it clear that he didn't want any of his players protesting unless they were planning to do it on their own time.
"In America, as individuals, we all have freedoms, and that's one of the things that makes our country great," Del Rio said in August 2016, via the San Jose Mercury News. "For us, I think it's more about recognizing that you're part of an organization. You're representing our organization, and our organization believes that you should pay respect to the flag. Save those individual decisions to express yourself for an individual forum."
Despite the ongoing protest, Del Rio expected his team to stand for the national anthem during games.
"You stand attention. You pay respect to our flag, our country," Del Rio said. "That's always been kind of an assumed thing."
Raiders owner Mark Davis also said that he'd prefer that his players don't protest while they're in uniform.
"The Raiders have always stood for diversity and rights," Davis told ESPN.com in 2016. "But I just don't think they should protest while in uniform. This is not a police state. If there was an issue, come talk to me. Hell, I may go and stand up there with them."
Although the Raiders didn't have any players sit for the national anthem in 2016, they did have two players -- Malcolm Smith and Bruce Irvin -- who protested by holding their fist up. Even that small protest didn't sit well with Del Rio, but that was mainly because the players never told him they were going to do it.
"I would've hoped … that it would've been brought up ahead of time so we could be all involved in one thing or another," Del Rio said in September 2016, via the San Jose Mercury News. "As I said earlier when this whole thing started, I respect everybody's opinion to express themselves. That's what we have as Americans, we have that right. I would just like to see us as a team do things together and united."
Lynch definitely wasn't united with the team on Saturday. The new Raiders running backwho sat during the national anthem. Although it went against his beliefs, Del Rio didn't because he wanted to "respect" Lynch as a man.
"He said, 'This is something I've done for 11 years. It's not a form of anything other than me being myself,'" Del Rio said. "I said, 'Just 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, OK?' So that's a non-issue for me."
Although it's not an issue now, it will be interesting to see if it becomes one in Oakland, especially if Del Rio has to answer questions about Lynch every week because Beast Mode won't talk to the media himself. That will leave the Raiders coach defending Lynch, even though he doesn't necessarily agree with what he's doing.