NFL players have defiantly reacted to President Donald Trump’s criticism, with at least 150 players kneeling, sitting linking arms, giving black power salutes and not even showing up for the national anthem out of protest.
Players from both the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars were the first to protest by taking a knee ahead of their game at Wembley Stadium in London on Sunday morning. No players were kneeling during the playing of God Save The Queen – the British national anthem.
The defiance against Trump continued as games kicked off across the country with an unprecedented number of players kneeling and most teams in the early afternoon games locking arms in solidarity.
At least 20 Patriots players were spotted kneeling as Tom Brady linked arms with his teammates.
Pittsburgh Steelers players were absent from the sideline and remained in the locker room during the Star Spangled Banner. Alejandro Villanueva, who served three tours in Afghanistan, was the only Steelers’ player to stand outside the tunnel for the anthem.
The protests from each team came in the wake of Trump’s critical remarks toward players who don’t stand for the anthem. Last week across the entire NFL, only four players knelt or sat, and two stood with their fists raised.
On Sunday evening Trump told reporters that his criticism has ‘nothing’ to do with race, saying: ‘I never said anything about race. ‘This has nothing to do with race or anything else. This has to do with respect for our country and respect for our flag’