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Giants' Olivier Vernon, Michael Thomas put protests on hold as discussions with NFL continue

Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon during training

 Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon during training camp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center on Thursday. Credit: Brad Penner

As the NFL and the NFLPA work toward a policy to address player protests of social injustices during pregame national anthems, two of the Giants players who took a knee last season did not do so during Thursday night’s preseason opener.

Olivier Vernon and Michael Thomas (formerly of the Dolphins) both stood in line with their teammates while the song was sung prior to kickoff of the game against the Browns at MetLife Stadium.

“Right now we’re waiting to see how everything goes with the league and we’ve just been engaging in talks and seeing what everybody is talking about and seeing where everything is going to lead to,” Vernon said of his decision. “For right now, it’s just football right now.”

While Vernon and Thomas stood, around the league a handful of players continued with their protests.

Vernon said the team has had discussions about how it would like to handle the anthem this coming season. It’s unclear whether those discussions were just among the players or with the coaches or ownership. The NFL rescinded a policy it unilaterally adopted in the spring that required players to either stand or wait in the locker room during the anthem in favor of further discussions with the players’ union that are ongoing.

“First and foremost, it’s basically everybody just engaging and talking about what is going on,” Vernon said. “But right now it’s really just focusing on football. That’s it.”

New York Sports