“Very important that NFL players STAND tomorrow, and always, for the playing of our National Anthem,” he wrote. “Respect our Flag and our Country!
Despite President Trump’s urgings, however, both the Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints continued the protest on Sunday at their game in London. The Saints collectively took a knee before the national anthem and then stood and linked arms as it was sung by Darius Rucker. Three Dolphins players, tight end Julius Thomas, safety Michael Thomas, and wide receiver Kenny Stills, remained kneeling during the anthem.
The controversy — which has its origins with the then-San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick sitting during the anthem in 2016 — was escalated two weeks ago when Trump told a rally in Alabama on Friday, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say: ‘Get that son of a b— off the field right now, out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’”
In a rare statement addressing a political issue, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called Trump’s remarks “divisive,” and said they “demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL.”
Trump escalated his demands the following Sunday morning by calling for fans to boycott the NFL. “You will see change take place fast,” Trump tweeted. “Fire or suspend!”
Since then, various teams have taken different actions during the national anthem, with some teams waiting it out in the locker room, others locking arms, and still more players continuing to take a knee.