NFL game day dawned Sunday with a display of unity by the Baltimore Ravens’ and Jacksonville Jaguars’ players and coaches, who locked arms on the sideline of London’s Wembley Stadium – some kneeling, others standing – during the singing of the United States national anthem.
Their statement without words came in response to a three-day campaign by President Donald Trump, who at 6:44 a.m. Sunday renewed his demand that NFL owners “fire or suspend” players who kneel during the national anthem in protest and called on fans to boycott games if the practice continued.
“If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!” Trump tweeted roughly three hours before kickoff of the NFL’s first game of the day, staged in London at part of the league’s effort to extend its fan base over season.
Roughly 30 minutes later, at 7:13 a.m., Trump continued in a second tweet: “NFL attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN. Boring games yes, but many stay away because they love our country. League should back U.S.”
Those remarks triggered reactions from many on the rosters, coaching staffs and front offices of the NFL’s 32 teams.
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Liz Clarke, Abby Phillip