On Friday, Donald Trump called for NFL owners to fire players who protest the National Anthem during games to call attention to police violence against black Americans. His words and subsequent tweets attacking the NFL have prompted a massive outcry from teams owners, coaches, and players alike, and today teams across the country are showing solidarity with protesting teammates.
In Philadelphia, where the Giants are playing the Eagles, players and coaches locked arms and a few players knelt or raised fists during the anthem.
Giants players kneel during anthem. Other lock arms. pic.twitter.com/wfRFJh7JBz
— Jim Roberts (@nycjim) September 24, 2017
Jets players stood for the National Anthem at their game against the Miami Dolphins at MetLife stadium, but locked arms. A few Dolphins knelt, while others wore shirts reading, "I'm With Kap," in reference to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was the first player to kneel in protest of police brutality. In Foxborough, where the New England Patriots faced off against the Houston Texans, some Patriots players knelt during the anthem. Quarterback and Trump ally Tom Brady chose to stand and lock arms with his teammates.
— ChuckModi (@ChuckModi1) September 24, 2017
The Pittsburgh Steelers, who were at Soldier Field in Chicago to play the Bears, did not emerge from their locker room during the National Anthem. "We're not going to let divisive times or divisive individuals affect our agenda," head coach Mike Tomlin told reporters before the game.
— NFLonCBS (@NFLonCBS) September 24, 2017
Players with the New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins also knelt or sat during the anthem, and in the United Kingdom, where the Baltimore Ravens faced off against the Jacksonville Jaguars, players took a knee during the U.S. anthem.
— Jeffrey Guterman (@JeffreyGuterman) September 24, 2017
It wasn't just players who proffered unity with those attacked in Trump's tweets. In Detroit, anthem singer Rico Lavelle took a knee and raised his fist when he finished singing.
Rico Lavelle sang the anthem AND took a knee pic.twitter.com/mgno4HCzZQ
— Jasmine (@JasmineLWatkins) September 24, 2017
Meanwhile, a number of team owners have issued statements criticizing Trump's comments about the NFL, including the owners of the Dolphins, Bills, Rams and Giants. Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who supported Trump during his campaign for the presidency, said he was "deeply disappointed" by Trump's comments. "I think our political leaders could learn a lot from the lessons of teamwork and the importance of working together toward a common goal," he said. "Our players are intelligent, thoughtful and care deeply about our community and I support their right to peacefully affect social change and raise awareness in a manner that they feel is most impactful."
And though Jets owner Woody Johnson did not issue a statement, former Jets coach Rex Ryan, who also supported Trump during the election, said on ESPN that he was "pissed off" with the President. "Everyone's always been united. Yeah, the views are different but lemme tell you: I'm pissed off. I'll be honest with you," he said. "Because I supported Donald Trump. When he asked me to introduce him at a rally in Buffalo, I did that. But I'm reading these comments and it's appalling to me and I'm sure it's appalling to almost any citizen in our country. It should be."
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) September 24, 2017
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who called the President's words "divisive" in a statement yesterday, announced today that the NFL will air the below "Unity" spot during tonight's Sunday Night Football game pitting the Oakland Raiders against Washington's NFL team.