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NFL Players Lock Arms, Kneel During National Anthem to Protest Trump
NFL players supported the movement started by Colin Kaepernick and joined a growing wave of sports stars to defy the president.
Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan links arms with players during the national anthem before the match against the Baltimore Ravens at Wembley Stadium in London on Sept. 24, 2017.
A spirit of unity swept the National Football League on Sunday as rival teams, players, coaches and even some owners and performers took a knee or linked arms — or even refused to take the field — to show opposition to President Donald Trump and support for the movement started by ex-quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Trump fired the first shot of the morning, with tweets that called for NFL fans to boycott the league — an attempt to pressure team owners to discipline players who protest American racial and social issues during the national anthem.
Tennessee Titans wide receivers Eric Weems (14) and Darius Jennings (15) walk to the field with arms linked after the national anthem, before a game against the Seattle Seahawks in Nashville.
Neither team was present on the field for the playing of the anthem.
The Seattle Seahawks players released a joint statement on Sunday explaining that they also would not participate in the national anthem.
"We will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of color in this country," the statement said. "Out of love for our country and in honor of the sacrifices made on our behalf, we unite to oppose those that would deny our basic freedoms.
Lincoln Financial Field during the national anthem prior to the game between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles in Philadelphia.
Owners and executives from nearly 20 sports teams — representing football, basketball and even baseball organizations — declared support for players, called for unity and emphasized freedom of speech and expression in a series of statements.
The Chicago Bears lock arms for the national anthem prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Soldier Field in Chicago.
The Steelers went a step further, announcing ahead of their match-up with the Bears that they would not leave their locker room for the national anthem — and they made good on that promise.
Buffalo Bills players kneel during the American National anthem before a game against the Denver Broncos at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York.
“President Trump’s remarks were divisive and disrespectful to the entire NFL community, but we tried to use them as an opportunity to further unify our team and our organization," Buffalo Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula said in a statement. “Our players have the freedom to express themselves in a respectful and thoughtful manner and we all agreed that our sole message is to prove and to promote an environment that is focused on love and equality.”
Tom Brady (12) locks arms with Phillip Dorsett (13) as he stands during the national anthem with New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, left, Matthew Slater, second from right, and David Harris (45) before a game against the Houston Texans, in Foxborough, Massachusetts.