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NFL Players #TakeAKnee After Trump Comments: Controversy Yields 4 Million-Plus Social-Media Posts

The controversy over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem — coming after fiery rhetoric from President Donald Trump on the issue — exploded on social media over the weekend.

The subject blew up after Trump made comments at a political rally Friday saying the NFL should fire players who did not stand for the anthem. He hasn’t eased up on his lambasting of the protests, calling for fans to boycott the league if it doesn’t fire or suspend players who don’t stand for the national anthem. During games Sunday, dozens of football players knelt during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Over the weekend, there were more than 4 million social posts related to the NFL and the national anthem, including those using the hashtags #TakeAKnee or #TakeTheKnee, according to social-media analytics firm Talkwalker.

On Sunday alone, according to Twitter, there were 2.5 million tweets with the hashtags #TakeAKnee or #TakeTheKnee. Volume on the social service spiked between 1-2 p.m. ET on Sunday with 240,000 tweets on the topic.

Meanwhile, also trending were social posts with the hashtags #BoycottNFL with 101,500 mentions and #MAGA with 90,900, as of Monday, Sept. 25, at 8 a.m. ET, according to Talkwalker.

According to Talkwalker, the top social post was this tweet from military widow Katie Hubbard in support of the NFL players’ right to protest. It has received more than 350,000 likes and 87,000 retweets.

A tweet by U.S. military veteran Patrick Pringle also was highly viewed and retweeted, receiving 150,000-plus likes and more than 45,000 retweets:

The divisive issue resulted in many NFL players seeing their highest retweets to date, according to Twitter. Those included the following athletes:

LeSean McCoy (@CutonDime25):

Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25):

Eric Ebron (@ebron85):

Martellus Bennett (@MartysaurusRex):

Jermon Bushrod (@j_bushrod7475):

Connor Barwin (@ConnorBarwin98):

Top-trending teams included the Pittsburgh Steelers, after player and former U.S. Army ranger Andrew Villanueva was the only member of the team to leave the tunnel of the locker room for the national anthem at their game with the Chicago Bears.

Meanwhile, 87-year-old actor Ed Asner got in on the action with a tongue-in-cheek post saying, “I am taking a knee on Sunday. I might need someone to help me up. #TakeAKnee,” garnering more than 120,000 likes:

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