By Ryan Mayer

(CBS4)- The NFL has returned to training camps and is preparing to play a regular season that is sure to look different from many that we have seen in the past. The coronavirus pandemic has changed league protocols on health and safety and made it unlikely that fans will be in attendance in full force in the fall. Then there are the ongoing protests calling for racial equality, social justice and an end to police brutality. The NFL has addressed these topics in recent months and is working with players on how the league can best use its influence to help these causes. With that, there has been speculation about players renewing Colin Kaepernick’s protest and taking a knee during the national anthem to keep focus on these issues.

Speaking to reporters at a virtual press conference this week, Denver Broncos President and CEO Joe Ellis said that the organization will support any players that decide to do so.

“On the anthem, everyone’s got a right to do as they please, express themselves as they feel. I’m going to respect that. We’re going to respect that as an organization,” said Ellis on Tuesday. “I think once we get down to 53, my guess is that the players will meet and convene. They may want to do something as a team. I will be there to listen and learn. It’s been an eye-opening period of about three months now. As I said, I’m going to respect—whatever it is that they decided to do we’re going to stand by that as an organization.”

Denver Broncos President and CEO Joe Ellis

Denver Broncos President and CEO Joe Ellis (file photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

With preseason games canceled this year, the first opportunity for players to protest would come prior to the team’s Sept. 14 opener in Tennessee against the Titans.

In September 2017, 32 Broncos players knelt during the anthem following President Donald Trump’s condemnation of Kaepernick during a rally in Alabama. The following season, in 2018, linebacker Brandon Marshall and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas chose to leave the sideline prior to the anthem being played.

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Ryan Mayer