Ward had been reportedly considering the act as recently as Wednesday.
“I hold an immense amount of respect for the many players – across the sporting world – that have chosen to peacefully bring attention to a couple of big issues in today’s society, which are inequality and the use of excessive force against people of color in the United States of America,” Ward wrote. “Make no mistake that racism exists and that people of color are treated differently and a day-to-day basis.”
Many NFL players have continued free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s movement started last season by kneeling during the United States anthem before games. Tensions rose to a boil when U.S. president Donald Trump called out the protesters last weekend, and the subject of protesting during the anthem has come up across North American sports leagues.
Players in the WNBA and MLB have partaken in the protests and made statements of their own in response.
But Ward believes that the act of kneeling has come to signify something that it wasn’t meant to do.
“I also feel that the original message that was trying to be communicated has been lost,” he wrote. “The focus has shifted to the act of kneeling itself or to a protest of the flag or the military. What are we really talking about here?”
He goes on to state: “Although I fully support those who before me have taken the lead in bringing awareness to these issues, I will not kneel during the national anthem like my brothers have done.”