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Date: 2024-05-18 Page is: DBtxt003.php txt00013859

The Trump Presidency
Anthem Uproar

NFL teams show unity in response to anthem uproar


Peter Burgess

NFL teams show unity in response to anthem uproar

© Getty Images

Football players were largely united in their response to the national anthem at Sunday NFL games for the second week following the controversy stirred by President Trump over players who kneel in protest during 'The Star Spangled Banner.'

Only a handful of players — among them Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills — knelt during the anthem on Sunday, a shift from the more than 200 NFL players who took a knee last week.

But this week a number of teams, including the New Orleans Saints, Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars, took a knee in unity as a team before then standing for the anthem. Most teams then linked arms or, in the case of the New England Patriots, put an arm on a teammate's shoulder, while they stood.

The symbolic move is a strong show of solidarity for both the flag and other players after a week that pit many professional players against the president.

Trump had criticized players who kneel during the anthem, which began last year as a form of protest against racial injustice in the U.S., saying it is disrespectful to the flag and military.

Some teams were booed for their anthem responses this week, especially those who knelt.

Trump tweeted Saturday that it was 'very important' for players to stand during the anthem. He also tweeted this week that 'standing with locked arms is good' while 'kneeling is not acceptable.'

At least three Miami Dolphins players took a knee during 'The Star-Spangled Banner' before their game against the New Orleans Saints in London, while Saints players took a knee before the anthem began but then stood as it was played.

Baltimore Ravens players kneeled shortly before the national anthem at their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers and prayed to 'embrace, unity, kindness, and justice for all Americans.'

The action was met with boos from people in the crowd. Both teams appeared to stand for the national anthem.

The Pittsburgh Steelers stood during the national anthem as planned, a week after nearly their entire team stayed in the locker room during the anthem.

'I promise you one thing, this week we will all be standing out there for the national anthem. Trust me,' Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey said, according to CBS Pittsburgh. He added, 'As far as I know it's 100 percent participation.'

The Dallas Cowboys, who linked arms and knelt before the anthem last week, did not take a knee during their game in Texas on Sunday. Players from the Los Angeles Rams, the opposing team, did link arms, and linebacker Robert Quinn reportedly raised a fist.

All of the Jacksonville Jaguars knelt ahead the anthem at their game in New York against the Jets, then stood with arms linked for the anthem itself, as did the opposing team.

The team said they kneeled 'to pray for change, progress and equality for everyone who calls the United States their home,' according to The Associated Press.

Six players from the Buffalo Bills took a knee in their game against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, according to BuzzFeed.

All of the Falcons players stood for the anthem and most players on the team linked arms, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

While 18 New England Patriots players took a knee during their game last week, all of the players united on Sunday during their game against the Carolina Panthers by placing one hand over their heart and another around the teammate standing next to them, according to The Boston Globe.

Everyone on the Panthers team reportedly stood.

Roughly 30 San Francisco 49ers players took a knee during the national anthem before their game against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, with some of the players standing behind the kneeling ones and placing a hand on their shoulders.

The team released a statement supporting their players and staff participating in the protests. Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the first NFL player last season to start kneeling during the anthem to protest racial inequality.

“For more than a year, members of our team have protested the oppression and social injustices still present in our society. While some may not have taken a knee or raised a fist, we have shared the desire to influence positive change,” the statement read.

“Today, our team chose to publicly display our unity in a new way and, in turn, urge others do the same.”

The team tweeted a video of the demonstration during the national anthem with the caption “Together.”

The games come more than a week after Trump reignited controversy over kneeling during the national anthem last month, in which he said players who take part in the protest should be fired.

'Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he's fired. He's fired,'' Trump said during a campaign rally in Alabama. He also urged the NFL to implement a rule banning players from kneeling during the anthem.

Kaepernick, now a NFL free agent, began taking a knee last year while with the San Francisco 49ers as a way of demonstrating against racial injustice in the U.S. Kaepernick was a frequent target for the president on the campaign trail.

Teams made a show of solidarity last Sunday, locking arms during the anthem or remaining in their locker rooms during the song. Several teams issued statements in the wake of Trump's criticism of players choosing to kneel, decrying Trump's comments as divisive and maintaining players' right to protest.

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