Donald Trump confronted by second week of NFL protests

The President triggered a furore with recent comments 

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Sunday 01 October 2017 22:19
NFL teams kneel and then stand for national anthem at Wembley

Donald Trump was has been confronted by another display of defiance from NFL players - many of whom linked arms or else took a knee before rising to their feet for the playing of the national anthem.

A week ago, more than 200 players either sat, knelt or raised a fist in defiance after the President criticised individuals such as Colin Kaepernick who had taken to kneeling to draw attention to discrimination - particularly by the police - against people on colour.

Mr Trump sparked widespread controversy when he said such players should be fired by the league and use offensive language to describe them.

On Saturday, Mr Trump had said on Twitter it was essential players stood for the national anthem, while he also said the linking of arms was “good”.

On Sunday, only a handful of players - among them members of the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills - kneeled. However, The Hill reported that many teams, including the the New Orleans Saints, Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars, took a knee in unity as a team before then standing up for the anthem.

It said most teams then linked arms or, in the case of the New England Patriots, put an arm on a teammate’s shoulder.

Brandon Marshall, a linebacker with the Denver Broncos, wore a T-shirt that bore the words “Everybody vs Trump”, when he entered the stadium for the team’s game against the Oakland Raiders. He stood with his first raised as the anthem was raised.

Trump: NFL owners are scared of their players

“Very important that NFL players STAND tomorrow, and always, for the playing of our National Anthem,” Mr Trump had tweeted 24 hours earlier. “Respect our Flag and our Country.”

The Fox television network’s broadcast of the day's first game, at Wembley Stadium, showed three members of the Miami Dolphins kneeling as US music star Darius Rucker performed The Star Spangled Banner.

All of the other uniformed Dolphins players and their opponents, the New Orleans Saints, were standing, many with their right hands over their chests.

The three players who had knelt stood for the British anthem God Save the Queen, which was also performed before the game.

Some African-American players adopted the symbolic gesture of kneeling during the anthem over the last year to protest against racial disparities in the US criminal justice system.

Outside Wembley Stadium, not all British fans supported the players' protests.

“I think everyone has the right to protest, but I think you have to choose your stage wisely,” Laura Williams, who works in healthcare, told Reuters. “I think you risk upsetting more people than it’s worth.”

Mark Dodson, an engineer, said the protests were “absolutely a global initiative and a sign of solidarity between different races, different backgrounds, different everything basically, which is great to see”.

On Tuesday, Mr Trump called on the NFL to ban players from kneeling in protest at games while the national anthem is played.”

“The NFL has all sorts of rules and regulations,” the President wrote. “The only way out for them is to set a rule that you can't kneel during our National Anthem.”

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