Taking a knee: Donald Trump unleashes Twitter onslaught against NFL over protests

Football players have been increasingly 'taking the knee' in protest of the US President's remarks

John Marshall
Tuesday 26 September 2017 12:35
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Donald Trump attacked the NFL ratings
Donald Trump attacked the NFL ratings

Donald Trump has unleashed a series of Twitter tackles against the NFL, American football's elite league, after a weekend of protests continued into Monday.

Players have been increasingly "taking the knee" in protest following remarks made by the US President last week when he criticised the trend.

However, Mr Trump continued his onslaught against the NFL in a series of tweets, saying: "Ratings for NFL football are way down except before game starts when people tune in to see whether or not our country will be disrespected".

He also said booing at the Dallas game on Monday night when the team dropped to its knees was the "loudest I have ever heard".

Following a weekend of kneeling and protesting across the NFL, the Cowboys and their owner displayed their own version of unity Monday night by kneeling on the field before rising as a group before the playing of the national anthem.

Mr Trump noted in his tweets that the team stood for the anthem: "Big progress being made - we all love our country."

Dallas Cowboys display own message of defiance to Donald Trump after NFL anthem protests

Monday's game continued saw the Cowboys and their owner displaying their own version of unity by kneeling on the field before rising as a group ahead of the national anthem after a weekend of protests at other fixtures.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has been a staunch supporter of Mr Trump, so the speculation was that he would not allow his players to kneel during the national anthem.

"I hope that I'm clear and I hope that our team is clear: We want to respect the flag. Make no mistake about that," Mr Jones said.

"Nothing that we've done, nothing that we did tonight says anything other than that.

"We also want to as a complete team, as players and an organisation, be able to, whenever we can, demonstrate that unity is important and equality is important.

"That's what I'm so proud of these guys for, they did both and did it in a way when people really stop and think about it, makes a lot of sense."

The Cowboys sat and watched the protests across the NFL on Sunday and spent most of Monday discussing the best way to show unity without denigrating the flag.

After warm-ups on Monday night, they went into the dressing room and returned to the field for the anthem, lining up between the sideline and the yard markers on the field.

Arm-in-arm, they dropped to a knee as a giant flag was carried onto the field, with Mr Jones and his family in the middle near the 50-yard line.

Numerous boos rang out across University of Phoenix Stadium as the Cowboys kneeled and continued as the players rose, still arm-in-arm, and stepped back to the sideline as the flag was unfurled across the field.

They remained connected as Jordin Sparks sang the national anthem.

"The objectives, as much as anything else, was to somehow, some way demonstrate unity and demonstrate equality, and do so without any way involving the American flag and the national anthem," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said.

The Arizona Cardinals had their own symbol of unity after a weekend of protests in the NFL, gathering along the goal line arm-in-arm during the national anthem.

They were joined by owner Michael Bidwell, his family and general manager Steve Keim.

More than 200 NFL players kneeled, sat or prayed during the national anthem on Sunday after Mr Trump said any player who does not stand for the national anthem should be fired.

Three teams did not take the field for the national anthem and numerous NFL owners came out against Mr Trump's statements.

The protests started more than a year ago when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand during the anthem as a protest over police treatment of minorities.

Associated Press

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