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Steelers skip anthem, players kneel as NFL shows solidarity amid Trump criticism

61   //    24 Sep 2017, 23:27 IST
Patriots players kneel during the national anthem

A day of protest in the NFL began when players, coaches and even team owners joined together during the national anthem before games in a show of solidarity following criticism from President Donald Trump

At stadiums around the league, players expressed their opposition to Trump's comments on Friday, in which he called players who knelt during the national anthem "sons of b*****s" and said they should be fired.

Some players specifically came out in support of Colin Kaepernick, who started the trend of anthem protests last year.

The biggest news on Sunday came at Chicago's Soldier Field, where the Pittsburgh Steelers took the unprecedented step of remaining together in the locker room while the national anthem played.

Steelers lineman Alejandro Villanueva, an army veteran, was the only player from his team to emerge, standing at the edge of the tunnel with his hand over his heart.

On the opposite sideline, Chicago Bears players stood with arms locked and hands on their heart

In New England, multiple Patriots players knelt during the anthem, prompting boos from some fans.

At Ford Field in Detroit, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank stood on the field with his arms locked with Devonta Freeman on one side and Julio Jones on the other, while Lions owner Martha Ford locked arms with coach Jim Caldwell on the opposite sideline.

Coach Mike Tomlin earlier explained to CBS why the team opted to stay in the locker room for the national anthem.


"These are very divisive times for our country," Tomlin said. "For us, as a football team, it's about us remaining solid. We are not gonna be divided by anything said by anyone. That's the thing that I posted to our guys. I said, 'If you feel the need to do anything, I'm going to be supportive of that. As Americans, you have that right.' But whatever we do, we're gonna do 100 percent, we're gonna do together.

"We're not gonna let divisive times or divisive individuals affect our agenda. This collection of men, we're chasing something here in 2017, and we're not gonna play politics with football players, with football coaches."

In Charlotte, all Panthers players appeared to be standing, but it was reported that Julius Peppers remained in the locker room. On the other sideline, almost a dozen New Orleans Saints, including Adrian Peterson, were reported to be kneeling.

Earlier in the day, many Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens players knelt, while others stood together, arms locked, during the anthem before their game at Wembley Stadium in London.

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