NFL players have used the United States national anthem to show their defiance to President Donald Trump’s criticism, with at least 100 players kneeling or sitting in protest and one team staying in the locker room.
Most teams in the early afternoon games on Sunday locked arms in solidarity. At least three team owners joined their players.
How each team would observe the national anthem emerged as the centre of attention on this NFL Sunday in the wake of Trump’s critical remarks toward players who don’t stand for the anthem – a form of peaceful protest started last season in the face of civil rights abuses in the United States.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,”‘ Trump said to loud applause Friday night at a rally in Huntsville, Alabama.
In a rare statement addressing a political issue, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called Trump's remarks "divisive," and said they "demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL."
Trump escalated his demands on Sunday morning by calling for fans to boycott the NFL. "You will see change take place fast," Trump tweeted. "Fire or suspend!"
This meant throughout Sunday's football games, players knelt, locked arms, raised fists, sat on the bench, and stayed in the locker room in opposition to the president.
The protests began as the NFL made their now annual pilgrimage to London.
There about two dozen players, including Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs and Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette, took a knee during the playing of the national anthem before the start of the game at Wembley Stadium.
No players were kneeling during the playing of the British national anthem, God Save the Queen.
The reaction of NFL fan on Twitter has been mixed - some supporting the protest, others vowing to 'boycott' the NFL season because of it.
— CNN (@CNN) September 24, 2017
America gave them:
2. A college degree
3. Millions of dollars in the NFL
And they give back by kneeling. SAD!#TakeTheKnee
— Eva Wallis (@EvaWallis) September 24, 2017
Try looking at what they are actually protest. And them kneeling is NOTHING compared to the BS coming out of Trumps mouth.....
— RepealCitizensUnited (@AshamedOkie) September 24, 2017
Just cancelled my NFL ticket package! Fed up with Prima Donna's kneeling during national anthem. Boycott NFL now!!
— Bob K (@govolsFL) September 24, 2017
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