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Viral petition demands Nike, Ford, other big-name brands drop NFL sponsorships after kneeling ban

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A Care2 petition demanding that big-name brands like Under Armour, Ford, Nike, Anheuser-Bush, Bose, and Hyundai cut ties with the NFL has received more than 5,500 signatures, and its popularity is apparently rising.

What's the background?

The Care2 petition is asking these big NFL sponsors to pull their support after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced a new policy regarding kneeling during the playing of the national anthem.

On Wednesday, Goodell released a statement proclaiming a ban on kneeling during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" for the upcoming football season, and teams would be fined if their players engaged in such behavior.

Players may also opt to remain in their respective locker rooms during the national anthem if they choose.

So what's in the petition?

The petition — which calls for major sponsors to back out of supporting the NFL — has received more than 5,500 signatures.

Rebecca Gerber, Care2's Senior Director of Engagement, says that the NFL's ban on kneeling is a "contradictory policy."

"NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has said the ban is to ensure players show respect for the flag. But the flag represents respect for freedom, including freedom of speech," Gerber said in a news release. "There is nothing disrespectful about NFL players using their platform to sound the alarm on problems in our country; in fact, it shows that they respect our country deeply and believe it can get better."

The petition adds, "Care2 is calling on Nike, Anheuser-Busch, Bose, Ford, Hyundai, and Under Armour to put their money where their mouth is and stand in support of free speech and against police brutality. Sign the petition and tell the six sponsors to end their partnership with the NFL."

Anything else?

It is unclear how the petition will affect NFL sponsorships.

During the height of the kneeling protests during the 2017-18 season, Under Armour and Nike voiced their support for athletes' rights to kneel during the playing of the national anthem.

"@UnderArmour stands for the flag and by our Athletes for free speech, expression and a unified America," the company's official Twitter account wrote in September.

That same month, Nike issued a statement professing its support for "athletes and their right to freedom of expression on issues that are of great importance to our society."

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