NFL national anthem protests

Screengrab via Josh Katzowitz/CBS

Fewer NFL players protest this weekend, but many still take a knee

All eyes were on the NFL again this week.


Chris Tognotti


Posted on Oct 1, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 3:42 pm CDT

On Sunday, NFL teams faced a familiar dilemma: Stand for the national anthem, kneel, or make some other sort of statement? It’s a question the league is clearly still grappling with, following President Donald Trump’s repeated, aggressive attacks against players who’ve engaged in political protest during the playing of the anthem.

The first and most famous player to protest during the anthem was former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who wanted to bring attention to police brutality against black Americans back in 2016. Trump called for such players to be fired for refusing to stand for the anthem, sparking a furious response from many players, and causing some team owners?even ones who donated millions of dollars to Trump’s presidential campaign?to join the protests in solidarity. 

On Sunday, eyes were once again on NFL stadiums throughout the country, with both supporters and opponents of the protests curious to see whether they would continue. They did, although not in such great numbers, fueling a host of reactions on social media.

Some teams knelt on the field before the playing of the anthem, but still got booed by fans.

The Baltimore Ravens, in particular, were booed by their home stadium when they joined arms and dropped to one knee.

Sunday’s protests, although less overt than the previous week, are underscored by the fact that Kaepernick still doesn’t have a job as an NFL quarterback. His career achievements and last year’s positive statistics appear to be overshadowed by the controversy he’s drawn.

Trump inserted himself into the issue of players protesting during the anthem in mid-September, causing some to voice distress that the original meaning of Kaepernick’s protest has been obscured. Back in 2016, when Kaepernick first sat out the usual anthem ceremony, he made it clear that the gesture wasn’t about partisan politics?to the contrary, he publicly attacked both Trump and Democratic president nominee Hillary Clinton?but rather, about police officers going unpunished for killing and injuring black people.

It remains to be seen whether Trump will again weigh in on Sunday’s slate of NFL protests. On Saturday, he approvingly tweeted out a video of hockey fans and players standing for the national anthem, but he didn’t touch the subject on Sunday morning, instead tweeting insults at North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, and attacking “politically motivated ingrates” for criticizing his response to the ongoing crisis in Puerto Rico.

Share this article
*First Published: Oct 1, 2017, 3:04 pm CDT