After Donald Trump referred to protesting football players as “son[s] of bitch[es]” and urged that teams “fire or suspend” them, dozens of players knelt or locked arms in solidarity during today’s NFL games. No team made a more visible statement than the Pittsburgh Steelers, who announced shortly before their game against the Chicago Bears that all players would simply remain in the locker room during the anthem. According to ESPN, coach Mike Tomlin said the team wanted to remove itself from the debate entirely.

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We’re not going to play politics. We’re football players, we’re football coaches. We’re not participating in the anthem today— not to be disrespectful to the anthem, but to remove ourselves from the circumstance. People shouldn’t have to choose. If a guy wants to go about his normal business and participate in the anthem, he shouldn’t be forced to choose sides. If a guy feels the need to do something, he shouldn’t be separated from his teammate who chooses not to.

Almost all the players followed through, and the Steeler’s sideline was nearly bare during the anthem. Only left tackle and Army vet Alejandro Villanueva appeared, standing at the edge of the tunnel with his hand over his heart.

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At the Patriots-Texans game approximately 17 Patriots kneeled, to boos from fans. Tom Brady locked one arm with another player, but raised the other to his heart.

The Texans all stood with arms locked, as did all of the Jets players at Met Life Stadium. Opposing them were the Miami Dolphins, who’d earlier seen several players sporting #IMWITHKAP shirts at their warm ups. During the anthem, most players locked arms with their coaches and the team’s owner, Stephen Ross, while four others knelt in protest.

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Meanwhile, Rico Lavelle, who kicked off the Falcons-Lions game in Detroit by singing the anthem, finished his performance by dropping to one knee and raising his fist in the black power salute.

Trump continued to condemn kneeling, but supported players— like his buddy Tom Brady— who locked arms.



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Joseph Doyle is an active entrepreneur and life coach with a multi million property portfolio and advertising and marketing agency boosting large international brands. Contact Joseph at www.digilab.ie