HOUSTON - When Houston Texan Duane Brown raised his fist into the night air of New England there was no mystery about his motive, no confusion over his cause.
In this week when two more lives were taken by police bullets in controversial shootings, Brown felt compelled to display his concern to an audience of millions.
"In light of recent events and killings of unarmed citizens I wanted to show my support and show that I wanted change," said Brown.
Delivered during the national anthem Brown insists he endeavored to blend protest with honor, choosing to stand rather than drop to a knee.
"I didn't want to kneel. I wanted to show that I am a proud American, but I wanted to show that I want change," said Brown in an interview with Fox 26 Sports Director Mark Berman.
Browns gesture has drawn angry jeers, with critics lighting up social media accusing the offensive lineman of disrespecting the country.
One wrote, "I was thinking about buying a number 76 jersey. Now I'm struggling to be a fan."
It was fierce blowback countered this Friday afternoon by Texans coach Bill O'Brien.
"Duane Brown expressed himself during the anthem which is his right. It is his right of free speech and I support his individual right to do that," said O'Brien.
And there are plenty offering Brown's raised fist applause, including the Mother of unarmed police shooting victim Robbie Tolan.
"I found it as him simply expressing his pain, his way of expressing his concern, his way of saying America lets change," said Marian Tolan.
It was a sentiment echoed by those who believe there's nothing less patriotic than silence in the face of ongoing wrong.
"If their players are feeling this way about the injustices within our society, than I think it's a cause that the NFL should be taking up and not just individual players," said Marcus Davis, Owner of the Breakfast Klub and a Fox 26 contributor.