NFL Steelers didn’t participate in national anthem today prior to their game with the Chicago Bears this afternoon.
As the “Star-Spangled Banner” played at Soldier Field in Chicago at the start of the game at noon local time, the Steelers’ sideline was virtually empty.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told a CBS Sports reporter that his team would stay in the locker room during the anthem.
“We’re not participating in the anthem today,” Tomlin said, adding that the action was “not to be disrespectful to the anthem” but to remove the team “from this circumstance.”
“People shouldn’t have to choose” whether to kneel or stand during the anthem, he said. “If a guy feels a need to do something he should not be separated from his teammate who chooses not to.”
“So we’re not participating today,” he said. “That’s our decision.”
The Steelers’ action was among many varied responses today and over the weekend to President Donald Trump’s calling for the firing of NFL players who kneel in protest during the anthem.
Earlier Sunday, a host of players in London took a knee and locked arms together as the United States national anthem was performed.
The Green Bay Packers‘ quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, posted on Instagram that he supports fellow NFL players and coaches and included a photo of him kneeling with three other teammates, with the hashtags: “#unity #brotherhood #family #dedication #love”
Underneath the post, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady appeared to endorse Rogers’ stance with a raised-fist emoji.
Brady also posted on Instagram a supportive message to all NFL players.
Among the players and coaches locking arms with players during the protest over the U.S. national anthem was Jaguars owner Shahid Khan.
Jaguars tight end Mercedes Lewis and linebackers Telvin Smith and Dante Fowler as well as defensive tackle Calais Campbell and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and cornerback Jalen Ramsey all took knees as did Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley, wide receiver Mike Wallace and safety Lardarius Webb.
The ones who didn’t kneel stood arm-in-arm throughout the playing of both country’s anthems.
The team’s official Twitter account posted a one word tweet “Unity” to capture the moment.
Khan himself released a statement calling Trump remarks as “divisive and contentious” and declared his support for his players after meeting with some of them before the game.
He said he was “honored to be arm in arm with them, their teammates and our coaches during our anthem.”
The owner added that the team and the NFL “reflects our nation” said that it was personally important “to show the world that even if we may differ at times, we can and should be united in the effort to become better as people and a nation.”
The anthem protest in Britain had dozens of players on both sides of the field including Baltimore Ravens kneeling when “The Star-Spangled Banner” was performed but standing when Britain’s national anthem “God Save the Queen,” witnesses and The Associated Press reported.
The protests come in response to the president’s comments at a rally Friday night in Alabama when he said: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say: ‘Get that son of a b—- off the field right now, out.”
The president then appeared to channel his signature command from when he hosted the reality television show “The Apprentice.”
“He’s fired. He’s fired.”
On Sunday, before NFL games kicked off, the president’s tweets reinforced his anti-anthem protest message.
He also suggested that if fans refuse to go to games due to the protests, “you will see change fast.”
Green Bay Packers quarterback was one superstar who on Sunday posted on Instagram that he was behind his fellow NFL players and coaches with and posted a photo of him kneeling with three other teammates and trumpeting the hashtags: “#unity #brotherhood #family #dedication #love”
Underneath the post, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady appeared to endorse Rogers and ultimately players around the league with a raised fist emoji.
On Saturday night, the president went after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell undermining Trump’s condemnation of kneeling players and made a statement that team owners should fire those players.
Goodell is “trying to justify the total disrespect certain players show to our country,” Trump tweeted.
Goodell did not mention the president by name in his statement earlier today.
“Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.”
The commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed on Twitter that the league would air its commercial from February “Inside These Lines” and stated:
“It reflects the unifying force of our great game, our players & clubs.”
NFL players across the league and their union — and even some team officials — had already chimed in with their response to Trump’s criticism Friday night of the handful of NFL players who have kneeled or sat on the bench during the national anthem performed before games over the past two seasons. The practice was most famously done by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick, who is currently unsigned, began kneeling in the preseason in 2016 as a sign of protest over the treatment of blacks in the U.S.
The president of the NFL Players Union, which represents current and former players, released a statement on Saturday: “The balance between the rights of every citizen in our great country gets crossed when someone is told to just ‘shut up and play.'”
Union President DeMaurice Smith acknowledged in his statement that “the peaceful demonstrations by some of our players” haven’t been universally supported, but “have generated a wide array of responses.”
But, he added, “Those opinions are protected speech and a freedom that has been paid for by the sacrifice of men and women throughout history … No man or woman should ever have to choose a job that forces them to surrender their rights.”
Hours later Trump fired back at his critics, tweeting that it was a “privilege” for athletes to earn a lucrative career in professional sports.
By Abcnews.go.com – http://abcn.ws/2fjQVA2