John Legend is the latest celebrity to show support for NFL players protesting on Sunday amid harsh criticism from President Trump. The singer penned a detailed essay, published on Slate, explaining his support of the peaceful protests.
“Protest is patriotic. Protest has played a critically important role in elevating the voices of the most vulnerable in our nation. Protest in America has been essential to ending war, to demanding equal rights, to ending unfair practices that keep citizens marginalized. If we quell protest in the name of patriotism, we are not patriots. We are tyrants,” he writes.
Keep up with this story and more by subscribing now
Legend goes on to cite some of the most iconic protests in the country’s history, including the Birmingham protests in 1963 and the Selma to Montgomery march in 1965.
“These protests woke Americans up from complacency. And combined with other forms of social activism, they helped to show citizens, policymakers, and anyone listening that there could be a better way. That hope was not just an idea—a better future was both necessary and possible,” Legend writes.
The current protests involve NFL players choosing to lock arms, instead of taking a knee to show their unity during the pre-game playing of the national anthem. Legend says these actions carry on the history of past protest tradition in our country and ultimately educate the public about current civil rights issues.
“[The protests] are not some arbitrary statement about a flag. They are a demand that we Americans make this country’s reality match its proud symbolism.”
He goes on to commend the efforts of specific players, including Colin Kaepernick, who initiated the anthem protests in 2016.
“I sing for a living—no one would want me on their NFL team,” he concludes. “But if I could, I’d take a knee on Sundays.”
The league-wide protests came after Trump made comments about NFL players during a political rally on Friday night: "Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’”
Trump stood by his comments, tweeting Sunday evening: “Sports fans should never condone players that do not stand proud for their National Anthem or their Country. NFL should change policy!”
This article is about the American football season in the United States. For the Gaelic football season in Ireland, see 2013 National Football League (Ireland).
The 2013 NFL season was the 94th season in the history of the National Football League (NFL). The season saw the Seattle Seahawks capture the first championship in the franchise's 38 years in the league with a lopsided 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, the league's championship game. The Super Bowl was played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday, February 2, 2014. It was the first Super Bowl hosted by New Jersey and the first to be held outdoors in a cold weather environment. The Seahawks scored 12 seconds into the game and held the lead the rest of the way.
Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning was named the regular season's Most Valuable Player (MVP) by the voters of the Associated Press (AP) for a record fifth time after compiling passing stats which included regular season records for passing yards and passing touchdowns. Manning also was named the Offensive Player of the Year for the second time in his career. Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly earned Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Scoring reached historic levels throughout the league in 2013. As a whole the league set records for total points scored, points scored per game and the number of both touchdowns and field goals scored. The Broncos set a new standard for team scoring in the regular season with 606 points. In addition to the Broncos, ten other teams each scored over 400 points, the greatest number of teams to surpass that benchmark in a single year.
The regular season got underway on Thursday, September 5, 2013, with the Broncos hosting the defending Super Bowl XLVII champion Baltimore Ravens in the annual kickoff game. The game presaged the Broncos' historic offensive production with a strong performance by Peyton Manning in which he tied a league record in throwing seven touchdown passes and led the Broncos to a 49–27 win. The game was the start of a disappointing season for the Ravens in which they would finish out of the playoffs with an 8–8 record, thus ensuring that there would be no repeat Super Bowl winner for a tied record ninth straight season. The regular season wrapped up on Sunday night, December 29.
The playoffs began with the wild card round which took place the first weekend of January 2014. The league's propensity for scoring did not abate in the post-season, as exemplified by the Indianapolis Colts' wild come-from-behind 45–44 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs' opening game. The Conference Championship games featured the top seeded teams in each conference, the Seahawks in the NFC and the Broncos in the American Football Conference (AFC), hosting the San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots respectively. Both home teams prevailed to set up just the second Super Bowl matchup of #1 seeds in the past 20 seasons.
The 2013 league year began at 4 pm EST on March 12, which marked the start of the league's free agency period. The per-team salary cap was set at US$123,000,000. For the first time the league instituted a negotiating period prior to the start of free agency during which time agents representing prospective unrestricted free agent players (though not the players themselves) were allowed to have contact with team representatives with the purpose of determining a player's market value and to begin contract negotiations. This period, which was referred to by some as the "legal tampering" period, began at midnight on March 9.
A total of 524 players were eligible for some form of free agency. Among the high-profile players who changed teams via free agency were wide receivers Mike Wallace (left the Steelers, joined the Dolphins), Greg Jennings (from Packers to Vikings) and Wes Welker (from Patriots to Broncos); defensive end Cliff Avril (from Lions to Seahawks); safety Dashon Goldson (from 49ers to Buccaneers); offensive tackle Jake Long (from Dolphins to Rams); and running backs Steven Jackson (from Rams to Falcons) and Reggie Bush (from Dolphins to Lions).
Eight players were assigned the non-exclusive franchise tag by their teams, which ensured that the team would receive compensation were the player to sign a contract with another team. These players were Brandon Albert (Chiefs), Jairus Byrd (Bills), Ryan Clady (Broncos), Michael Johnson (Bengals), Pat McAfee (Colts), Henry Melton (Bears), Anthony Spencer (Cowboys) and Randy Starks (Dolphins). None of these players changed teams.
The following trades are notable as they involved Pro Bowl-caliber players and/or draft picks in the first three rounds:
- April 21 – Cornerback Darrelle Revis was traded by the Jets to the Buccaneers. The Jets received the Bucs' first round draft pick in 2013, the 13th overall selection (which the Jets used to select Sheldon Richardson) and a conditional pick which would become the Bucs' fourth-round selection in 2014, the 104th overall pick. Revis, a three time All-Pro, was widely considered to be among the league's top defensive players, but he was coming off a knee injury and the Jets did not feel they would be able to retain him after the 2013 season. The Bucs signed Revis to a 6-year, $96 million contract.
- September 18 – In a bit of a shocking mid-season move the Browns traded running back Trent Richardson to the Colts in exchange for the Colts' first-round pick (26th overall) in the 2014 draft. The Browns had moved up in the previous year's draft to grab Richardson with the third overall selection and he was presumed to be a cornerstone of the team.
- October 2 – Offensive tackle Eugene Monroe was traded by the Jaguars to the Ravens in exchange for fourth- and fifth-round selections in the 2014 draft (picks #114 and #159 overall). The Jaguars had selected Monroe eight overall in the 2009 draft.
Further information: 2013 NFL Draft
The 2013 NFL Draft was held April 25–27, 2013, in New York City. Prior to the draft the NFL Scouting Combine, where draft-eligible players were evaluated by team personnel, was held in Indianapolis on February 20–26. In the draft, the Kansas City Chiefs made Central Michigan University offensive tackle Eric Fisher the first overall selection.
Training camps for the 2013 season opened in late July. The Buccaneers camp was the first to open with rookies reporting on July 17. The Cowboys were the first to open camp to veteran players on July 20. All teams were in camp by July 27.
Prior to the start of the regular season, each team played at least four preseason exhibition games. The preseason schedule got underway with the NFL Hall of Fame Game on Sunday, August 4. The Hall of Fame game is a traditional part of the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame induction weekend celebrating new Hall of Fame members. It was played at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio, which is located adjacent to the Hall of Fame building. In the game, which was televised nationally on NBC, the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Miami Dolphins 24–20. The 2013 Hall of Fame class of Larry Allen, Cris Carter, Curley Culp, Jonathan Ogden, Bill Parcells, Dave Robinson and Warren Sapp was honored during the game. The 65-game preseason schedule concluded on Thursday, August 29.
The 2013 season featured 256 games played out over a seventeen-week schedule which began on the Thursday night following Labor Day. Each of the league's 32 teams played a 16-game schedule which included one bye week for each team between weeks four and twelve. The slate featured seventeen games on Monday night including a doubleheader in the season's opening week. There were also seventeen games played on Thursday, including the National Football League Kickoff game in prime time on September 4 and three games on Thanksgiving Day. The regular season wrapped up with a full slate of 16 games on Sunday, December 29, all of which were intra-divisional matchups.
- Scheduling formula
Under the NFL's scheduling formula, each team played each of the other three teams in their own division twice. In addition, a team played against all four teams in one other division from each conference. The final two games on a team's schedule were against the two teams in the team's own conference in the divisions the team was not set to play who finished the previous season in the same rank in their division (e.g. the team which finished first in its division the previous season would play each other team in their conference that also finished first in its respective division). The pre-set division pairings for 2013 were as follows:
The 2013 regular season schedule was released on April 18, 2013.
- Regular season highlights
The 2013 regular season began on Thursday, September 5, with the NFL Kickoff Game in which the Denver Broncos hosted the Baltimore Ravens. The game was a rematch of a double-overtime playoff game of the previous season. The game was broadcast on NBC. The Ravens, as the reigning Super Bowl champions, would normally have hosted the kickoff game, however, a scheduling conflict with their Major League Baseball counterparts, the Baltimore Orioles, forced the Ravens to start the season on the road (the Ravens' and Orioles' respective stadiums — M&T Bank Stadium and Oriole Park at Camden Yards — share parking facilities). The Ravens became the first Super Bowl winner since 2003 to open their title defense on the road.
In the kickoff game the Broncos avenged their playoff loss by defeating the Ravens 49–27 on the strength of a record-setting performance by quarterback Peyton Manning. Manning put on an amazing show completing 27 of 42 pass attempts for 462 yards and seven touchdowns. Manning set or tied numerous league records in the game including most touchdown passes in a game (tied with five others) and records for most career games with at least six, five and four touchdown passes.
The first of two games in the NFL International Series was played in the fourth week of the season on September 29. The Minnesota Vikings hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers at Wembley Stadium in London, England. Both teams entered the game winless on the season at 0–3. The Steelers–Vikings game kicked off at 6:00 pm BST (1:00 pm EDT). The Jacksonville Jaguars hosted the San Francisco 49ers at Wembley four weeks later, in the first of four annual London games for the Jaguars running through 2016. The 49ers–Jaguars game started at 5:00 pm GMT (1:00 pm EDT). This was the first season which included two London games. It was announced in October that the International Series would be expanded to include three games in 2014.
The game that perhaps best exemplified the offensive explosion of the 2013 season was the Broncos' 51–48 victory over the Cowboys on October 6. This was the fourth highest-scoring game in history in a season in which new records were set for overall as well as per-game scoring. The teams combined for 1,039 yards in total offense. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo passed for 506 yards, becoming only the fifth passer in league history to surpass 500 yards and throw five touchdown passes in a game. However, Romo threw an interception with the score tied in the game's final two minutes which led to a Matt Prater field goal which gave the Broncos the win as time ran out.
The Chargers and Raiders played an unusual late night game in the season's fifth week on October 6. The game, originally scheduled to start at 1:25 pm PDT, had to be moved to the evening to accommodate stadium schedules — Major League Baseball's Oakland Athletics, the Raiders' co-tenants of O.co Coliseum, had hosted the second game of the 2013 American League Division Series the previous night and stadium crews needed nearly 24 hours to convert the stadium from a baseball to a football configuration. O.co Coliseum was only multi-purpose stadium which hosted both an NFL and an MLB team in 2013. Although the stadium conversion was complete by 3:30 pm local time, an 8:36 pm kickoff was necessary to avoid conflict with NBC's Sunday Night Football, where the 49ers hosted the Texans at Candlestick Park across the San Francisco Bay. The Chargers-Raiders game was the latest game played on the west coast in league history and was broadcast nationwide on the NFL Network.
The highlight of the season's seventh week was the return of Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning to Indianapolis to play the Colts. Manning had played for the Colts the first fourteen years of his career before he was released by the team in March 2012, as he was coming off a serious neck injury which kept him out of the 2011 season. Manning was honored prior to the game in a 90-second video of the highlights of his years with the Colts. The Colts won the game 39–33 behind a four touchdown performance by Manning's replacement as the Colts starting quarterback, Andrew Luck. It was the Broncos' first loss on the season and broke a string of 19 consecutive regular season wins.
With the Broncos loss to the Colts, the Chiefs became the league's last unbeaten team of 2013. They would run their record to 9–0 before losing to the Broncos 27–17 in the season's eleventh week on November 17. The Chiefs had suffered a league-worst 2–14 season in 2012.
On November 24, the Patriots hosted the Broncos on NBC Sunday Night Football. The game featured the fourteenth meeting in the careers of two of the league's best quarterbacks, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Peyton Manning of the Broncos. The game was hyped as Manning-Brady XIV. The game lived up to the hype with Manning's Broncos building a 24–0 halftime lead as the Patriots were booed off their home field. In the second half Brady's Patriots scored 31 unanswered points. The Broncos scored a late touchdown to tie the game and send it into overtime where the Patriots ended the game on a field goal after recovering a muffed punt at the Broncos' 13-yard line. The comeback was the largest in Patriots history, until the Patriots overcame a 25-point deficit in Super Bowl 51.
The league's traditional slate of Thanksgiving Day games was played on Thursday, November 28. The Lions hosted the Packers in the early game at 12:30 pm EST, marking the Packers' 21st Thanksgiving game in Detroit. The Raiders visited the Cowboys in the late afternoon game at 3:30 pm CST. The evening game featured the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens hosting their AFC North rival Steelers at 8:30 pm EST.
Controversy erupted during the third quarter of the Thanksgiving night game between the Steelers and Ravens, as Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin found himself in the path of Ravens returner Jacoby Jones during a Ravens kickoff return. Tomlin was watching the play on the stadium's big screen and was thus facing away from the play itself while standing with at least one foot in the field of play. Jones broke the return to the side of the field and was running up the sideline on which Tomlin was standing. Tomlin stepped away from the field to avoid Jones as he approached, but did so only after he caused Jones to veer slightly toward the center of the field. Shortly thereafter, Jones was tackled from behind at the Steelers' 27 yard-line. Some observers speculated that without Tomlin's interference Jones may have reached the endzone on the play. Tomlin was fined $100,000 by the league for the incident and the league held out the possibility that the Steelers might also be stripped of draft picks in the 2014 NFL Draft since Tomlin's actions "affected a play on the field." After the season concluded it was announced that no further penalty beyond Tomlin's fine would be assessed.
The Bills hosted the Falcons in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on December 1. The game was played at Rogers Centre one week after the 101st Grey Cup ended the 2013 Canadian Football League season. On January 9, the Bills and Rogers Communications had announced a five-year extension of the Bills Toronto Series.
In contrast to the league-wide offensive explosion, the Seahawks fielded one of the best defenses in league history in 2013. Perhaps the best performance of the season for the Seahawks defense occurred in Week 15 as they shut out the Giants 23–0. In the game, the Seahawks intercepted five passes and forced the Giants to punt on all eight of their other possessions. The Giants' offense was held to just 181 yards for the game.
Going into the final day of the season on December 29, eighteen teams remained in contention for the twelve available playoff spots. All sixteen of the week seventeen games (all of which were intra-division matchups) were played on Sunday and thirteen had playoff implications. All four division winners in the AFC had been determined, but all four NFC divisions were still up for grabs. In the season's final regular season game on Sunday night, the Eagles defeated the Cowboys 24–22 to capture the NFC East. This was the third straight year that the Cowboys were eliminated from the playoffs with losses in their final game, all of which were against division rivals and all of which were played on Sunday night.
In-season scheduling changes
The following regular season games were moved either by way of flexible scheduling, severe weather, or for other reasons:
- Week 5: The Chargers–Raiders game was moved from 4:25 p.m. ET to 11:35 p.m. ET. The Raiders' Major League Baseball counterparts, the Oakland Athletics, hosted Game 2 of the 2013 American League Division Series on the previous night (October 5), and officials at O.co Coliseum needed almost 24 hours to convert the stadium from a baseball to a football configuration (O.co Coliseum is currently the last venue to host both an NFL and an MLB team). The later start time also avoided a conflict with NBC's Sunday Night Football, where the 49ers hosted the Texans at Candlestick Park across the San Francisco Bay at 8:40 p.m. ET. Additionally, the Chargers–Raiders game was televised on the NFL Network instead of CBS.
- Week 7: The Texans–Chiefs game was moved from 1:00 p.m. ET to 4:25 p.m. ET.
- Week 11: The Chiefs–Broncos game, originally scheduled as CBS's only late 4:05 p.m. ET singleheader game, was flexed into the 8:30 p.m. ET slot on NBC Sunday Night Football. CBS originally selected this matchup as one of their "protected games" from flex-scheduling, but later allowed the league to flex it so it could be seen by a national audience. The original Sunday night contest, the Packers–Giants game, was then moved back to the 4:25 p.m. ET doubleheader time slot on Fox, while the Chargers–Dolphins game was moved from 1:00 p.m. ET to the 4:05 p.m. ET singleheader slot.
- Week 13: The Broncos–Chiefs game was moved from 1:00 p.m. ET to 4:25 p.m. ET, while the Patriots–Texans game was switched from 4:25 p.m. ET to 1:00 p.m. ET.
- Week 14: The Panthers–Saints game, originally scheduled at 1:00 p.m. ET on Fox, was flexed into the 8:30 p.m. ET time slot on NBC. The original Sunday night contest, the Falcons–Packers game, was then changed to 1:00 p.m. ET on Fox. It was the second time the Packers were stripped of a prime-time appearance this season.
- Week 15: The Saints–Rams and Cardinals–Titans games were moved from 1:00 p.m. ET to 4:25 p.m. ET.
- Week 16: The Bears–Eagles game, originally scheduled at 1:00 p.m. ET on Fox, was flexed into the 8:30 p.m. ET time slot on NBC. Although the original Sunday night contest, the Patriots–Ravens game, featured two playoff contending teams, it was moved to 4:25 p.m. ET to allow CBS to also air a more competitive game.
- Week 17: The Eagles–Cowboys game, originally scheduled at 1:00 p.m. ET, was selected as the final NBC Sunday Night Football game, which for the third consecutive season decided the NFC East division champion. The Bills–Patriots game was moved to the 4:25 p.m. ET time slot on CBS while the Packers–Bears and Buccaneers–Saints games were moved to 4:25 p.m. ET on FOX.