In response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s comments Friday night where he called out NFL players who protest the U.S. national anthem as “sons of b*tches,” dozens of players kneeled and almost all locked arms on Sunday in the first NFL game of day that was being played in Wembley Stadium in London, England.
The first game between the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars saw dozens of players from both teams kneel while almost the entire Jaguars’ on-field and sideline players and employees locked arms during the U.S. national anthem, including owner Shad Khan. Some players stood while others knelt.
Other players and owners say they plan on protesting Donald Trump’s remarks during games on Sunday, as well.
This comes at a time when the NFL is seeing an uncommon dip in ratings that while the NFL claims is due to other various reasons, many Americans claim they are tuning out of the NFL due to the increasing number of players protesting the national anthem.
Sixteen of the 32 NFL owners have put out statements defending their players and criticizing President Trump. They join the NFL players union and hundreds of players.
Trump took to Twitter Sunday morning.
He said: “If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!”
Trump continued, “…NFL attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN. Boring games yes, but many stay away because they love our country. League should back U.S.”
On Friday during a stump speech in Alabama, Trump said: “We are proud of our country. We respect our flag… 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. He is fired. He’s fired!’”
“That’s a total disrespect of our heritage. That’s a total disrespect of everything we stand for,” Trump said, adding that while we have many freedoms, it’s still “totally disrespectful.”
If a fan sees a player take a knee, the fan should “leave the stadium… Pick up and leave,” Trump said Friday night, adding that fans wouldn’t be missing out.
The Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin announced that the team would stay in the locker room to avoid the controversy all together.
He said that his team is not going to play politics and they are “not participating in the anthem today not to be disrespectful towards the anthem, to remove ourselves from the circumstance. People shouldn’t have to choose.”
On Sunday, the kneeling controversy took over most morning media as announcers, coaches and players are taking sides on the issue that has been brewing for a while now.