Former Florida Gator and current Miami Dolphin Jelani Jenkins became one of a handful of players around the NFL to join 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in kneeling for the national anthem prior to Week 1 games.
Jenkins’ solidarity will last only for a week, though.
“Now that the conversation has begun,” he wrote for TIME, “on Sunday, Sept. 18 I intend to stand united with my teammates and the Miami Dolphins organization during the national anthem, which I have done since my arrival in 2013.
Some have accused Kaepernick of letting the actions of the protest overshadow the message behind it. Jenkins took a measure to avoid that, penning an essay for TIME explaining his actions and what they stand for but also why he won’t continue to kneel.
“This is not about football, the flag, the military, or Jelani Jenkins,” Jenkins wrote for TIME. “This is about the message: equality for all.”
Jenkins was one of four Dolphins to kneel for the anthem before their season-opener against the Seahawks, doing so next to running back and former Tennessee Volunteer Arian Foster, receiver Kenny Stills and defensive back Michael Thomas. Across the field from them, the Seahawks stood while locking arms. Other players across the league joined the protest by either also taking a knee or raising a fist in the air akin to Tommie Smith and John Carlos in the 1968 Olympics.
Jenkins was a three-year starter at linebacker for the Gators before being drafted by the Dolphins in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL draft.
What I want is simple; equal rights and equal opportunities for every single person living in this country. The same dream Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had. The same dream my great grandfather, Esau Jenkins, had as he fought for equal rights in Charleston, S.C. He fought the same issues we are still fighting today and now, he will be honored in Washington, D.C. at the new National Museum of African American History and Culture’s permanent exhibit on “Defining Freedom, Defending Freedom: The Era of Segregation.” So to stand idly by and witness men and children who look like me being senselessly shot and killed is not an option. No more hashtags. Enough is enough. Racial, social and economic inequality is very real in this country, and it is time for real change with real results. In order to help stimulate meaningful change, sometimes it takes a controversial—but meaningful—stand. After standing with my teammates as we honored those who were victims of the 9/11 attacks with a moment of silence, I knelt during the singing of the national anthem. I have the utmost love and respect for those who risk their lives and died serving this country. Several of my close family members have served in the military. I do not have an ounce of hate in my body and absolutely have no intentions to disrespect the military. I come from a spirit of love and I aim to unite—not divide.