At a rally Friday night and on Twitter over the weekend, President Trump lashed out at NFL players who have followed Colin Kaepernick's lead in sitting or kneeling during the national anthem. Trump has suggested that they be "fired" for disrespecting the American flag.
On Sunday, NFL players, coaches, owners and whole teams reacted to Trump's comments by speaking out and kneeling, linking arms or remaining in their locker rooms during the anthem.
- The Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans and the Seattle Seahawks stayed in their locker rooms during the national anthem yesterday, with the exception of Steelers offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva, a former Army Ranger, who emerged and stood for the anthem.
- The entire New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals teams linked arms, and the whole Oakland Raiders team sat down with their arms linked during the anthem.
- New England quarterback Tom Brady linked arms with his teammates during the national anthem, and called Trump's tweets "divisive."
- Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rogers joined arms with his teammates during the national anthem, and before the game posted on Instagram a photo of himself kneeling alongside other Packers players with the caption "#unity #brotherhood #family #dedication #love #."
- Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones: "I do not think the place to express yourself in society is as we recognize the American flag, and all the people that have made this great country the very opportunity for us to be there in front of the nation. So that's not the place to do anything other than honor the flag and everybody that's given up a little bit for it."
- Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank:"I think we have to celebrate their right to express themselves, as every American does."
- Jacksonville Jaguars' owner Shahid Khan linked arms with players during the national anthem. He previously donated $1 million to Trump's inauguration.
- New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft: "I am deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the President on Friday. I am proud to be associated with so many players who make such tremendous contributions in positively impacting our communities. Their efforts, both on and off the field, help bring people together and make our community stronger."
- Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie: "Every day I see the genuine dedication and hard work of our players. And I support them as they take their courage, character and commitment into our communities to make them better or to call attention to injustice. Having spoken with our players, I can attest to the great respect they have for the national anthem and all it represents. We at the Philadelphia Eagles firmly believe that in this difficult time of division and conflict, it is more important than ever for football to be a great unifier."
- Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, Blank and Lurie all linked arms with their players during the national anthem.
- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued a statement on Saturday: "Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities."
Anthem singers' reactions:
- At the Seahawks-Titans game, Megan Lindsey took a knee after singing the national anthem.
- At the Falcons-Lions game, the singer Rico LaVelle also took a knee at the end of the anthem.