What once was a silent form of protest performed by Colin Kaepernick to address police brutality, NFL players kneeling for the national anthem have taken on a whole new cause.
The league and Donald Trump are virtually at war after the 45th President of the United States’ comments over the past few days. And players around the NFL took action on Sunday.
At a rally on Friday night for Senator Luther Strange in Huntsville, AL, Trump got on the topic of players around the NFL kneeling for the anthem shortly after he rescinded an invitation to the White House for the 2017 NBA champion Golden State Warriors:
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b—ch off the field right now, out, he’s fired,’” he said.
On Sunday morning, he doubled down on his comments, tweeting for fan support:
“If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!”
Countless players fired right back on social media; including Green Bay Packers tight end Martellus Bennett tweeting that he was “OK with being fired for what I believe in.”
Plenty of owners also came forward, including New England Patriots owner and friend of Trump Robert Kraft, who admitted he was “deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the President.”
But the real rebuttal began at 9 a.m. ET with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens getting the Sunday portion of Week 3 in London, England.
Members of both teams knelt or locked arms in a sign of unity, including Jaguars owner Shahid Khan:
Players take a knee and lock arms before the Ravens-Jaguars game in London, along with Jags owner Shahid Khan. pic.twitter.com/KtWFIojnSS— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) September 24, 2017
In Chicago, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin alerted CBS that his team would not leave the locker room for pregame festivities, stating that “we’re not going to play politics.”
However left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, who served in the Army, stood near the tunnel with his hand over his heart.
Teams around the league followed suit by either standing with arms linked, displaying raised fists or kneeling.