NFL Players, Owners Respond to Donald Trump, Protest During National Anthem

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistSeptember 24, 2017

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24: Jacksonville Jaguars players kneel during the playing of the national anthem against the Baltimore Ravens at Wembley Stadium on September 24, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mitchell Gunn/Getty Images)
Mitchell Gunn/Getty Images

Members of the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars locked arms Sunday morning during the national anthem before their game in London.

Many players also took a knee in protest a day after President Donald Trump said he believed players who did so during the anthem should be kicked off the field and even fired.

Bleacher Report and Mike Conti of 92.9 The Game shared images from the sidelines:

According to Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL Network, players and staff on both sidelines locked arms. That included Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, per Cameron DaSilva of USA Today and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network:

As Peter King of The MMQB noted, Khan donated $1 million to Trump's inauguration fund. Khan made the following statement after the anthem, per Adam Schefter of ESPN:

"It was a privilege to stand on the sidelines with the Jacksonville Jaguars today for the playing of the U.S. national anthem at Wembley Stadium. I met with our team captains prior to the game to express my support for them, all NFL players and the league following the divisive and contentious remarks made by President Trump, and was honored to be arm in arm with them, their teammates and our coaches during our anthem. Our team and the National Football League reflects our nation, with diversity coming in many forms—race, faith, our views and our goals. We have a lot of work to do, and we can do it, but the comments by the President make it harder. That's why it was important for us, and personally for me, to show the world that even if we may differ at times, we can and should be united in the effort to become better as people and a nation."

The 1 p.m. ET games also featured a number of protests and demonstrations of unity during the anthem. Both the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins locked arms on their sides of the field:

Many players on the New England Patriots and the Houston Texans made a similar gesture:

"I believe love is the greatest thing we have," Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said after New England's 36-33 win over Houston, per ESPN.com's Mike Reiss.

The teams' actions weren't met kindly by some of the Foxborough crowd, however:

There was kneeling from the Buffalo Bills and Denver Broncos:

Bills running back LeSean McCoy stretched as the anthem played:

The Minnesota Vikings locked arms:

Several New Orleans Saints sat for the anthem before their game against the Carolina Panthers, including Adrian Peterson:

"I disagree with what the President said and how he said it," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said, per Joel A. Erickson of the Advocate. "I thought it was unbecoming of the office."

The Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants mostly locked arms, with a few other gestures of protest included:

Large groups of Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts kneeled before their matchup:

Some members of the Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions did the same:

"We don't agree with what's being said about us as players," Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said after Atlanta's 30-26 victory, per ESPN.com's Jeff Darlington.

And then there were the Pittsburgh Steelers. Head coach Mike Tomlin told Jamie Erdahl of CBS Sports that the team would remain in the locker room during the anthem before their game against the Chicago Bears. He added in the CBS pregame broadcast that he didn't believe players should have to choose between kneeling and protesting or not doing so and didn't want his team to play politics.

Indeed, the Steelers were not on the field for the anthem:

The Bears locked arms, meanwhile:

The protests continued into Sunday's afternoon slate of games. The Seattle Seahawks announced they will remain in their locker room during the national anthem ahead of the team's matchup with the Tennessee Titans:

The Titans announced they'd stay in their locker room as well: "As a team, we wanted to be unified in our actions today. The players jointly decided this was the best course of action. Our commitment to the military and our community is resolute and the absence of our team for the national anthem shouldn't be misconstrued as unpatriotic."

Members of the Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals locked arms on their respective sidelines:

The Los Angeles Chargers players used various means to make their point:

A few Kansas City Chiefs players kneeled as well during the anthem:

The Washington Redskins emulated the Jaguars' show of solidarity, with team owner Daniel Snyder standing among the team:

According to 106.7 The Fan's Grant Paulsen, a few members of the Washington roster kneeled during the anthem.

On the other sideline, a number of Oakland Raiders players remained seated on the bench:

Adam Schefter of ESPN reported Sunday that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith "spent part of Saturday discussing how to best to respond the president's position that players who protest during the anthem should be fired."

"The same NFL source also said Goodell spoke to players such as Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, a leader among players seeking change through social activism."

But the NFLPA then released a statement denying Schefter's report: "There were no communications between DeMaurice and Roger about the president's comments and certainly no discussions about their respective statements. We reached out to the league office to give them a chance to correct the record as well before my clarification now. They do plan to talk in the near future."

Protests during the anthem have remained a divisive issue, with some claiming the act is disrespectful to the flag and military. The other viewpoint is that athletes are using their platform to protest the mistreatment of minorities in the United States and aren't making anti-military statements.

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