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    October 10, 2018 11:04 PM PDT

    Last season Randall Cobb Jersey , the Seattle Seahawks led the league when it came to the number of players willing to make a statement while the national anthem played.


    To start this season, that wave of Seahawks has dwindled to only two players.

    Linemen Duane Brown and Quinton Jefferson walked off the field and waited in the tunnel while a field-sized American flag was unfurled and the national anthem played before their season opener Sunday in Denver.

    In a league where more than 200 players once took some sort of action to protest police brutality and social injustice in America during the anthem, The Associated Press counted fewer than 10 across the league who did so on the NFL's opening Sunday. Only two of them 鈥?Albert Wilson and Kenny Stills of the Dolphins 鈥?kneeled while the "Star-Spangled Banner" played.

    None of which bothered Brown much. He says he's committed to what he's doing.

    "I made my decision," he said. "That was my decision. I wasn't paying attention to what other teams or other players are doing."

    The lower numbers might reflect a new strategy many players are embracing to draw attention to the issues Colin Kaepernick raised when he began kneeling for the anthem in 2016. The then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback was looking to shine a light on issues impacting African American communities.

    Since then, a group of NFL players have formed the Players Coalition . They want to move the focus away from the anthem, which has become a lightning rod, in part because of President Donald Trump's continued criticism of players who don't stand during the anthem.

    "We're trying to move past the rhetoric of what's right or what's wrong in terms of the anthem, and really focus on the systematic issues that are plaguing our communities," said Malcolm Jenkins of the Eagles, one of the group's co-founders, who is no longer protesting during the anthem.

    And yet, if Kaepernick is on board with all of that, it wasn't clear Sunday. He took to twitter to praise Wilson and Stiles .

    "My Brothers (Stills) and (Wilson) continue to show their unwavering strength by fighting for the oppressed," Kaepernick said in his tweet. "They have not backed down, even when attacked and intimidated. ... Love is at the root of our resistance."

    Kaepernick's message got through to his friends in Miami.

    "I know he has our back," Stills said. "Really, there has been a huge difference between when we first started protesting and now. A lot of people are reaching out and supporting us, so I really appreciate that. To everybody out there ... let's keep doing our best to make positive change and have these conversations and make our country a better place."

    Since opting out of his contract after 2016, Kaepernick has been unable to land a job with an NFL team and is suing the league for collusion.

    But his voice is still being heard. Last week, Nike introduced an ad featuring the quarterback and his message: "Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything."

    Other than Stills, Wilson and the two Seahawks, Dolphins defensive lineman Robert Quinn raised his fist during the anthem. Niners receiver Marquise Goodwin did the same at San Francisco's game at Minnesota. In Los Angeles, Chargers left tackle Russell Okung raised his fist. And back in Denver, Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas and linebacker Brandon Marshall retreated to their tunnel while the anthem played.

    Marshall sent out a statement touting a charity designed to help people who are on the verge of homelessness.

    "It is time that we build social currency by way of empowering our future generations," Marshall said. "This begins by addressing the most fundamental needs 鈥?by feeding the minds and bodies."

    This came hours after Trump opened the day with a tweet that took digs at the NFL Womens Jake Gardiner Jersey , linking low ratings for Thursday night's opener between Atlanta and Philadelphia (lowest for an opener since 2008) to players who refuse to stand for the anthem.

    "If the players stood proudly for our Flag and Anthem, and it is all shown on broadcast, maybe ratings could come back? Otherwise worse!" he tweeted.

    CBS and Fox, which carried Sunday afternoon's games, did not televise the anthem.

    However, NBC did show the anthem Thursday night (but not before Sunday night's Bears-Packers game), and no players kneeled or protested in other ways.

    But while the tumult over the anthem appears to be dying down, the NFL still hasn't collaborated with the players union to come up with a definitive solution.

    In May, the league briefly put a policy in place, but rescinded it after the union filed a grievance. The union and league are still negotiating. Brown, of the Seahawks, said he has not received any message from the union to tamp down the protest.

    "I don't think that would be the best idea to try to get people to move on from it," he said. "The country hasn't moved on from it, so I'm not going to move on from it either."

    The last time Golden State got Stephen Curry back from a knee injury in the playoffs, he immediately returned to brilliance.


    Curry returned for Game 4 of the Warriors‘ five-game Western Conference semifinals against Portland two years ago and made 16 of 32 shots with five 3-pointers and scored 17 points in overtime on the way to 40 in a 132-125 victory. He grabbed nine rebounds and dished out eight assists.

    If that is any indicator, the New Orleans Pelicans better be ready for a superstar as eager as ever to get back on the court and chase a repeat championship.

    The two-time MVP, sidelined since spraining his left knee March 23, is expected to play Tuesday night in Game 2 against New Orleans with what is sure to be a fired-up crowd at Oracle Arena. The Warriors have won a franchise-record 13 straight home playoff games.

    In late December against Memphis, Curry came back after being sidelined 11 games with a sprained right ankle to score 38 points with 10 3-pointers.

    ”I’m not too worried about him. I’ve seen him come back from injuries many times,” coach Steve Kerr said Monday. ”… Sometimes it’s just one shot that gets him going.”

    And what a boost Curry’s presence could be for the defending champions who are already clicking on both ends.

    ”He loves the game just as much as anybody I ever been around and I know he wants to play. I’ve just been thinking about that, just worrying about how he feels not playing,” reigning Finals MVP Kevin Durant said. ”… Excited for him to get back just to be in a place where he enjoys most, which is playing ball, and the other stuff, we’ll figure it out. But I’m more so excited as his brother that he’s out there, he gets to play basketball , something that he loves to do.”

    The Pelicans prepared all week to see Curry back on the court and they know they must bounce back fast to stay in this best-of-seven series after a 123-101 flop in Saturday night’s Game 1.

    Golden State scored 41 points in the second quarter and 76 in the first half – both new franchise-bests for the postseason. The Warriors shot 13 for 20 in the second, making four 3s and 11 of 14 free throws.

    While New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry thought his team’s long layoff might have hurt, the players said it was much more.

    ”We hang our hats on defense,” Rajon Rondo said. ”What happened in the second quarter is inexcusable. I can’t blame it on a week off of rest. It’s a lack of communication and not being disciplined. If we can clean that up, I think we’ll be fine.”

    Anthony Davis and Rondo will challenge the Pelicans to play with more intensity on the defensive end. The Warriors thrived when they made things hard on Davis to take shots, got stops and pushed the ball in transition.

    ”We’re very confident. It’s one game. They win by 40, you win by one, 90, it’s one game,” Davis said. ”It’s still best-out-of-seven. Our job is to learn from what we messed up tonight and get prepared for Game 2.”

    The Warriors have taken their defense to another level, led by Durant and Draymond Green – who is coming off a triple-double and has 15, 19 and 18 rebounds in his past three games, respectively.

    Golden State also is pushing the pace, a far different game than in the first round against the Spurs.

    ”We all like to get out in transition,” Warriors guard Shaun Livingston said Monday. ”We can slow it down and we understand to win games we’ll have to execute and maybe win some grind-out games, that’s just part of playoff basketball, but everybody loves to run.”

    Here’s something to know about the Cleveland-Toronto series opener, also Tuesday:


    LeBron James just won his fifth straight Game 7 and now the Cavs will face the Raptors for the third consecutive postseason.

    Toronto eliminated the Wizards in a six-game first round and now the challenge is stopping LeBron and his supporting cast.

    ”We understand everything starts and stops with him,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. ”There’s certain things you want to give up with him, there’s certain things you have no choice in the matter. There’s a pecking order as far as what we want to give up, what we live with.”

    The Cavs are 8-2 against Toronto the past two postseasons and went 5-2 in matchups during the regular season the past two years.

    AP Freelance Writer Ian Harrison contributed to this report from Toronto.