It all began with a speech the president gave on Friday at a rally for Senator Luther Strange in Alabama.
During the speech, in which the president commended Senator Strange and the crowd of supporters for being unified by American values; he made this remark:
"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?’”
He was, of course, referring to the protests that have sprung up in the NFL this past year, where NFL players have refused to stand during the National Anthem instead, choosing to kneel in protest of racism and support of equality.
According to the Business Insider, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick spurred the movement in August of 2016, when a photo of him sitting on the bench during the National Anthem while his teammates stood was posted to Twitter.
A few weeks later, he was again spotted as the sole player on the bench while the anthem played. Following the preseason game that was played against the Green Bay Packers Kaepernick had this to say to NFL Media on August 29, 2016:
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” […] To me this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.”
Three days later at the San Francisco 49ers final preseason game against the San Diego Chargers, fellow 49er Eric Reid joined Kaepernick.
This time the men decided to kneel, a suggestion offered by former green beret Nate Boyer, who told Kapernick, that kneeling would allow him to protest while still being respectful of the National Anthem.
“We sorta came to a middle ground where he would take a knee alongside his teammates. Soldiers take a knee in front of a fallen brother’s grave, you know, to show respect,” Boyer told Bryant Gumble during an episode of HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumble”.
According to SBNation.com, following this game and throughout the regular 2017 season, fellow NFL players such as Jeremy Lane (Seattle Seahawks), Brandon Marshall (Denver Broncos) and players from the Miami Dolphins and The Kansas Chiefs took a knee during the anthem to support Kaepernick’s cause.
Fastforward to the 2017 season, and although, Kaepernick is currently a free agent the protests have, of course, continued.
On Saturday, the day after the president’s remarks, he took to Twitter where he further chastised NFL players who choose to kneel rather than stand during the National Anthem saying:
“If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect…our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”
Come Sunday, the message that the NFL sent in response to President Trump’s tweets was heard, though their actions remained silent, as more than 200 NFL players took a knee during the National Anthem at their respective games, according to The New York Post.
In fact, according to CNN, each team in the league, of which there are 28 teams, took part in some form of protest against Trump’s comments, while keeping in mind Kaepernick’s original message: unity against racial injustice and police brutality.
Teams such as the New York Giants and the Cleveland Browns took a knee during their respective games against The Philadelphia Eagles and The Indianapolis Colts.
With others, such as the Dallas Cowboys—along with their owner Jerry Jones—choosing to lock arms in solidarity during the anthem or to remain in their locker room until the anthem was over, as The Seattle Seahawks and The Tennessee Titans did.
New York Giant Landon Collins who knelt along with his teammates Damon Harrison and Olivier Vernon had this to say to The New York Post after their game on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles:
“It hurt me to take a knee. I was about to break down in tears. I love this country. But at the same time, we respect each other, and we have a family over here, and we’re gonna fight for each other.”
Outside of the NFL, athletes in other sports are quickly echoing this sentiment.
According to The New York Post, during Game 1 of the WNBA Finals on Sunday, The Los Angeles Sparks left the floor before the anthem began. The opposing team The Minnesota Lynx chose to lock arms in unity as others had done before them.
Oakland Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell took a knee for the second time in a row and made clear his intention to continue doing so.
“Everybody watches sports and so everybody loves sports, so I felt this was the right thing for me to do personally.”
Do you agree or disagree with what these players are doing? Let us know in the comments.