NFL players kneel, raise fists, lock arms during national anthem

NFL players across the league protested during the national anthem Sunday in defiance of President Trump, who said that players who kneel during the “The Star-Spangled Banner” should be fired.

Many players sat, kneeled, raised fists or stayed inside locker rooms as the anthem played before each game, and as team owners encouraged players to express themselves. Others locked arms in a show of unity.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who remains unsigned, started the kneeling movement in 2016 to protest racial injustice in America. Activists and critics of the league believe Kaepernick has been blacklisted for his protests. On Sunday, players with the Miami Dolphins wore shirts that read “#ImWithKap” during pregame warm-ups.

The demonstrations began Sunday when the Baltimore Ravens faced off against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London. Nearly two dozen players, including Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs and Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette, took a knee. Other players on both teams who remained standing locked arms with Jaguars owner Shad Khan.

The Seattle Seahawks announced they would not participate in the anthem as a team. “We will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of color in this country. 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 most basic freedoms. We remain committed in continuing to work towards equality and justice for all,”  the team said in a statement.

Mike Tomlin, the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, announced they would remain in the locker room during the anthem. “We’re not going to let divisive times or divisive individuals affect our agenda,” Tomlin told CBS Sports. However, one Steelers player, Army veteran Alejandro Villanueva, stood alone outside the stadium’s tunnel while the anthem played.

Here is a look at the demonstrations that unfolded Sunday:

Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets

“It just amazes me with everything else going in this world — especially concerning the U.S. — that’s what you concerned about, my man? You’re the leader of the free world… “As a man, a father, as an African American man, as someone in the NFL, as one of those son of b—–s, yeah I took it personally,” Thomas told reporters after the game. “But it’s bigger than me.”

“I’ve got a daughter and she’s going to have to live in this world. And I gotta do what I got to do to make sure she can look at her dad and be like ‘Hey, you did something to try and make a change.'”

New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers

“Personally, I’m disappointed in the comments that were made. I think we need a little bit more wisdom in [the White House],” Saints head coach Sean Payton said in a skyypro news conference. “I want that guy to be one of the smarter guys in the room and it seems like every time he’s opening up his mouth it’s something that is dividing our country and not pulling us together, and that has nothing to do with my take on the anthem.”