In response to recent comments made by President Trump condemning silent protests of the Star Spangled Banner, at least 27 NFL players from the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars took a knee during the national anthem Sunday at London’s Wembley Stadium. Players who opted not to kneel locked arms and rested a hand on the shoulder pads of those who did.
Shad Khan, the owner of the Jaguars, who contributed $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee, joined the demonstration. Everyone later stood for a performance of “God Save the Queen”.
— Jacksonville Jaguars (@Jaguars) September 24, 2017
By the end of Sunday afternoon, roughly 100 players also took a knee in league-wide demonstrations against the President’s comments.
Jets players, acting team owner Christopher Johnson and staff linked arms and tweeted a photo with the message, “Unity.” None chose to kneel, according to the NY Daily News. Johnson said, “It was an honor and a privilege to stand arm-in-arm unified with our players during today’s National Anthem. We are very proud of our players and their strong commitment to work in our community to make a positive, constructive and unifying impact.”
— New York Jets (@nyjets) September 24, 2017
Players from the New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins, and New York Giants also decided to kneel while all players from the Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks opted to stay off the field during the anthem. All but one of the Pittsburgh Steelers remained in the locker room. Alejandro Villanueva, offensive tackle, held his hand over his heart while standing in the tunnel to the locker room. Villanueva is a decorated army veteran.
The widespread displays of unity warmed the hearts of many while others, like some in the crowd in Detroit during the Lions and Falcons game booed. Other players like Buffalo Bills running back LeSean McCoy stretched during the song, while wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. raised his fist in a salute after scoring a touchdown to show solidarity.
The protests were largely in response to President Trump’s controversial comments, “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, out, he’s fired,’ ” President Trump made his comments during a rally Friday in Alabama.
There are varying opinions about the effectiveness and necessity of these protests within professional football, but one thing is for sure, they’re certainly getting attention. I was happy to see unity despite the heated debates that have erupted across the country. I only hope our country can come to a place of peace and understanding. How do you feel about the NFL national anthem protests? Share your thoughts in the comments.