The Indianapolis Colts announced before Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks they "respect all forms of peaceful protests" and are fine with some of their players kneeling during the national anthem as a way of protesting racial inequality and police brutality.
Adam Schefter of ESPN shared the team's statement:
Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter
Colts’ statement: https://t.co/CjZtqtcwfJ2017-10-1 21:10:13
"To be clear—those of us who kneeled did not intend to disrespect our flag, our National Anthem or those who serve our country," the statement explained. It also pointed to the public platform available to NFL players and stressed there is a "responsibility to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves."
According to Clifton Brown of the Indianapolis Star, a number of Colts players, including Malik Hooker, Darius Butler, Matt Hazel, Kamar Aiken, Marlon Mack, Al Woods and Rashaan Melvin, elected to kneel during the national anthem before their Week 3 game against the Cleveland Browns.
Brown also noted "at least 20 Cleveland" players did the same, with players for both sides locking arms in a display of unity.
While Colin Kaepernick first made headlines last season as a member of the San Francisco 49ers when he knelt during the anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality, the issue was the primary talking point during Week 3 of the 2017 season largely as a reaction to President Donald Trump.
While speaking during a rally in Alabama, Trump said owners should "get that son of a bitch off the field right now" if a player knelt during the anthem.
The president also continued to tweet about the issue, and one tweet suggested the NFL should institute a policy forcing players to stand during the anthem.
Indianapolis' Sunday opponent, Seattle, stayed in the locker room during the anthem before its Week 3 game against the Tennessee Titans.