In the first game since President Donald Trump’s controversial remarks about national anthem protests, NFL players responded with defiance.
More than two dozen players between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens kneeled in protest Sunday during the national anthem before a game played in London. The number of players participating in the protests was much more than normal, and were spurred by comments Trump made on Friday about the protests.
For those who didn’t protest, each player, coach, and team staff member locked arms on the sidelines during the anthem. Even Jaguars owner Shad Khan stood on the sidelines in solidarity with his team and the NFL.
Ravens and Jaguars players come together in a display of unity before kickoff in London. pic.twitter.com/dy8JDzOBas
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) September 24, 2017
What did Trump say and what has the fallout been?
Speaking at a rally in Alabama Friday, Trump said: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag, to say get that son of a b***h off the field right now?”
He also characterized the protests as “total disrespect of our heritage” and “total disrespect of everything that we stand for.”
The backlash was immediate and swift. Athletes from every sport, including NBA greats Lebron James and Steph Curry, denounced the comments. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL owners condemned Trump, and the vast majority of Americans condemned the comments.
The left condemned them because Trump harshly denounced what they believe is a very important issue, while many on the right condemned the comments because they encroached on the players’ right to speech and protest.
In response, players said the protests would continue and be magnified. Even one major league baseball player found himself on a knee Saturday during the anthem.
What to expect for the rest of Sunday
As games continue to kickoff on Sunday, expect more and more players to kneel during the national anthem. Activist Shaun King said he has talked to dozens of NFL players and hundreds have confirmed their plans to protest on Sunday.
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) September 24, 2017