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President Trump retweets endorsement for NFL boycott as players protest

Posted at 9:07 AM, Sep 24, 2017

After President Trump tripled down on comments that NFL players should be suspended or "fired" for protesting the national anthem, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan linked arms with players in protest during the "Star Spangled Banner."

PHOTOS: Dozens of athletes kneel during national anthem following President Trump's comments

While Khan linked arms with players, a handful of other players from both the Jaguars and the Baltimore Ravens took a knee during the anthem.



Among the handful of Ravens taking a knee was former linebacker and TV commentator Ray Lewis.



The protest came hours after Trump against tweeted that NFL owners should "fire or suspend" players that "disrespect" the "flag & country."

Meanwhile, CBS reports that the Pittsburgh Steelers did participate in the singing of the national anthem before the team's game against the Bears on Sunday. The team stayed in the locker room for the "Star Spangled Banner." Only offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva stood with his hand over heart heart in the tunnel while the anthem played.



The Seattle Seahawks also chose to not participate in the national anthem on Sunday, chosing instead to remain in the lockeroom during the "Star Spangled Banner."

"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," Seahawks players said in a statement.


The Seahawks' opponents, the Tennessee Titans, also chose not to participate in the anthem. 

"As a team, we wanted to be unified in our actions today. The players jointly decided this was the best course of action. Our commitment to the military and our community is resolute and the absence of our team for the national anthem shouldn't be misconstrued as unpatriotic," the Titans said in a statement.

Sister station WXYZ in Detroit reports that eight Lions players took a knee before the Lions' game against the Falcons. Two Falcons players also took a knee.

Also during that game, Lions anthem singer Rico LaVelle took a knee and raised a fist while singing.

According to sister station WRTV in Indianapolis, at least seven Colts players sat or kneeled for the anthem ahead of their game against the Cleveland Browns. A large group of Browns players — who have protested the anthem since the beginning of the preseason — continued their protest today.

Eight Buffalo Bills players took a knee before the team's game against the Denver Broncos Sunday, according to sister station WKBW. Included in that group is running back LeSean McCoy, who stretched while the anthem played.

In addition, Bills FB Mike Tolbert wore a T-shirt reading "everybody vs injustice" during pregame warmups.



Sister station WCPO reports that a number of Cincinnati Bengals players locked arms during the anthem in Green Bay, while WTMJ three Packers sat in protest. In a statement the Bengals said "“Football and politics don't mix easily. Fans come to NFL games to watch great competition on the playing field and that's where our focus should be."

In response to the anthem protests across the league, Trump tweeted Sunday afternoon that "standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable. Bad ratings!"



The United States code states that those not in military uniform should stand at attention with their right hand over their heart. It does not say anything about linking arms during the national anthem.

Trump later retweeted a meme that called for a boycott of the NFL.



President Trump initially called for anthem protesters to be fired at a rally Friday in Alabama. 

"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you'd say, `Get that son of a b**** off the field right now. Out! He's fired," Trump said.

On Saturday, the NFL issued a statement saying the President's "divisive comments demonstrated an unfortunate lack of respect" for the League. Since then, the Bills, Browns, Colts, Dolphins, 49ers, Patriots, Packers, Seahawks, and the head of the NFL Players' Association have issued statements denouncing Trump's comments.

Alex Hider is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @alexhider.