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New season: NFL players kneel, raise fists during anthem; Trump tweets response

Some members of the San Francisco 49ers kneel during the National Anthem before a game against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on October 15, 2017 in Landover, Maryland. (Keith Allison/Flickr)
August 10, 2018

The National Football League (NFL) preseason has begun, and with it a fresh wave of controversy surrounding players protesting during the national anthem.

At 12 different pre-season games Thursday night, several football players either took a knee, raised their firsts or stayed in the locker room in protest during the national anthem, NBC News reported.

Players across the league kneeled many times last year during the football season, but raising their fist is a new symbol of protest.

Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins raised his fist in protest Thursday night. He had told NBC News in June that he was protested last year because “I’m fighting for Americans and citizens that have been disenfranchised, that have been systemically oppressed for centuries,” NBC reported.

President Donald Trump has been vocal in the past about his feelings on kneeling during the anthem, and he again took to Twitter Friday morning to express his opinion that players should respect the anthem and “stand proudly.”

“The NFL players are at it again – taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the National Anthem. Numerous players, from different teams, wanted to show their ‘outrage’ at something that most of them are unable to define. They make a fortune doing what they love,” he wrote.

“….Be happy, be cool! A football game, that fans are paying soooo much money to watch and enjoy, is no place to protest,” the President continued. “Most of that money goes to the players anyway. Find another way to protest. Stand proudly for your National Anthem or be Suspended Without Pay!”

Jenkins took to Twitter Thursday night and wrote: “Before we enjoy this game lets take some time to ponder that more than 60% of the prison population are people of color. The NFL is made up of 70% African Americans. What you witness on the field does not represent the reality of everyday America. We are the anomalies…”

The NFL had announced in May that it was banning players from kneeling on-field during the anthem.

NFL owners had approved a new policy that allows players to stay in the locker room if they want to during the national anthem, but if they are on the field, the players must stand and show “respect for the flag and the anthem,” the NFL had announced.

The rule would issue fines to teams if players violate the new policy and kneel on the field or on the sidelines, and a 15-yard penalty was also being considered.

However, enforcement of the new rule is not happening until the league and NFL Players Association work out a compromise, NBC reported.

The news came in the wake of the huge controversy last year that rocked the NFL and football fans, after players began kneeling during the national anthem.

There were several weeks of football games throughout the 2017 season where hundreds of players took a knee or sat down in protest during the national anthem.

This was started by football player Colin Kaepernick in 2016 to protest what he believes to be problems in America, namely police brutality and black inequality. Kaepernick is currently suing the NFL. Kaepernick and another unsigned free agent, Eric Reid, are alleging that NFL teams are colluding to keep them unemployed, SI reported.

The kneeling protests took on a whole new meaning after President Donald Trump said players should stand during the anthem or be “fired.”

Trump has called on players to stand and show respect to the anthem and flag. Otherwise, if any player kneeled during the national anthem, then that team’s owner should “fire that son of a b*tch.”

Trump had also tweeted: “Ratings for NFL football are way down except before game starts, when people tune in to see whether or not our country will be disrespected.”

“The NFL has all sorts of rules and regulations. The only way out for them is to set a rule that you can’t kneel during our national anthem,” Trump had tweeted.

The NFL Players Association has come out and said that they players are within their rights to do so, per the First Amendment and freedom of speech.