The Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks skipped the national anthem at Nissan Stadium Sunday in response to criticisms from President Donald Trump.
Dozens of NFL players have taken a knee in the last year in protest of the police shootings of several African Americans in different situations across the country.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began the anthem protests when he refused to stand for the anthem during a preseason game in August 2016.
At the time he issued a statement saying, “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 was. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Since then, dozens of NFL players have participated in similar protests.
President Trump criticized some in the NFL Friday night at a rally, saying team owners should fire players for taking a knee during the anthem.
"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.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Trump’s comments showed a “lack of respect” for the league.
"The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture," Goodell said in the statement. "There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we've experienced over the last month. Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities."
Roger Goodell of NFL just put out a statement trying to justify the total disrespect certain players show to our country.Tell them to stand!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
The President later tweeted on Sunday that kneeling during the anthem is "not acceptable."
In response to the president’s comments and tweets, several teams decided to stay in their locker rooms during the anthem before Sunday’s games, including the Titans and Seahawks. Both team issued statements.
Great solidarity for our National Anthem and for our Country. Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable. Bad ratings!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
"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."
Titans Controlling Owner Amy Adams Strunk released the following statement on Saturday: “I am proud to stand with our players and support them in their work on and off the football field. I completely agree with Commissioner Goodell that we are better off as a nation when we are unified and pulling together. I have seen that kind of attitude first-hand in Tennessee and across our country in the many benevolent and public-spirited efforts of our NFL players, often without any public recognition.
Our players make public contributions day-in and day-out and when I hear anyone making disparaging remarks about them, I know it has to be the result of not knowing what they bring to our communities or what they have accomplished.”
“As a team, we have decided we will not participate in the national anthem. 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.”
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll also issued a statement Sunday morning, saying, “We stand for love and justice and civility. We stand for our players and their constitutional rights, just as we stand for equality for all people.”
— Pete Carroll (@PeteCarroll) September 24, 2017
Titans anthem singer, Megan Lindsey, took a knee after singing the national anthem before the Titans/Seahawks game.
Anthem Singers at Titans / Seahawks Game Take Knee After Performing National Anthem pic.twitter.com/MCNZ3j8nOr
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) September 24, 2017
Prior to Sundays game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Detroit Lions, Lions' anthem singer Rico LaVelle took a knee while singing the final line of the Star Spangled Banner. LaVelle also raised a fist as he took a knee.
The national anthem singer at Ford Field took a knee with eight Lions players. pic.twitter.com/VjjLGsay84
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) September 24, 2017