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.
Take a look at what players around the NFL did during the playing of the national anthem today. pic.twitter.com/8ubnLHtYPA
— Fox News (@FoxNews) October 1, 2017
A group of Miami Dolphins kneel for the anthem. Everyone else was stood as far as I could see pic.twitter.com/v7xc23Jmfp
— Nicholas McGee (@nicholasmcgee24) October 1, 2017
Some teams knelt on the field before the playing of the anthem, but still got booed by fans.
Ravens players booed for kneeling BEFORE anthem. This was never about the flag. This is racists trying to silence black athletes' First Amendment rights. pic.twitter.com/946eGnoZm4
— Adam Best (@adamcbest) October 1, 2017
People booing when players kneel before the anthem. What are you upset about now?
— Geoff Schwartz (@geoffschwartz) October 1, 2017
Kneel before the anthem and they still boo…almost like it was never about the flag or the military and they just never want you to protest
— Marcus H. Johnson (@marcushjohnson) October 1, 2017
— Michael DeMocker (@MichaelDeMocker) October 1, 2017
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.
Kaepernick started his protest while Obama was President, but, you know, facts. https://t.co/hvrPvFrHSj
— Franklin Leonard (@franklinleonard) September 24, 2017
Don't kneel during the anthem because 45 hates it, do it for the very reasons Kaepernick started it: anti-blackness/police brutality.
— Lara Witt (@Femmefeministe) September 24, 2017
Let's remember why NFL players started kneeling. They are talking about the need for criminal justice reform and police department reform.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) October 1, 2017
Kap kneeled to protest systemic racism & police brutality. He specifically said he has respect for the military.
His intent is being lost. pic.twitter.com/txmzSwbQrY
— April (@ReignOfApril) September 28, 2017
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.