It's not about the flag, or even football, for four Lansing Catholic starters who decided to kneel during the national anthem for the first time on Friday night.
"Football is for the next, for me, maybe five, four years, you know I'll go out and play in college," expects Michael Lynn III. "I'm black for the rest of my life."
That's why he's taking a stand, or a knee, against racial inequality and police brutality on black Americans. He's joined by three other Lansing Catholic players, Roje Williams, Kabbash Richards, and Matthew Abdullah. All four were pulled from the starting lineup because of their decision to kneel.
But they say this is bigger than football. They need to use their voices to speak for those who don't have a platform like they do. That's why they have each other's backs.
"I was told by people in my school that things aren't going to change overnight, and 'you think that this is going to have a much bigger impact than it is.' And if people were stopped by those people who say things like that, we wouldn't be anywhere today," Lynn told me on Friday afternoon.
He detailed experiences he went through as a kid in mid-Michigan, slurs he would hear from fans during football games, and was determined to stand up against it.
It wasn't an easy decision, and not one any of the four players took lightly, but they explained why they felt it had to be done.
They emphasized it's in no way an effort to disrespect the American flag, veterans, people currently serving in the armed services, or any other American. Instead, a way to get people to look at the inequality that exists across the country, even in mid-Michigan.
Lynn doesn't think the rhetoric regarding these protests has focused on that. He, along with Williams, Richards, and Abdullah, want people to know for certain that this is about racial inequality and police brutality and speaking for those who can't.
"I believe things can change, and they can change quickly" Lynn states emphatically, "and if they don't change quickly, we will still push. We will push until things break because if something has to break it won't be us."