NFL teams respond to Trump with non-participation, kneeling in protest

NFL players, teams and owners across the league responded Sunday to President Trump’s criticism of players kneeling in protest during the national anthem, with some kneeling, others locking arms and still others choosing not to participate in the national anthem ceremony at all.

As the “Star-Spangled Banner” played at Soldier Field in Chicago for the noon game between the Chicago Bears and the Steelers, the Pittsburgh team’s sideline was virtually empty.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told a CBS Sports reporter prior to the game that his team would stay in the locker room during the anthem.

“We’re not participating in the anthem today,” Tomlin said, adding that the action was “not to be disrespectful to the anthem” but to remove the team “from this circumstance.”

“People shouldn’t have to choose” whether to kneel or stand during the anthem, he said. “If a guy feels a need to do something he should not be separated from his teammate who chooses not to.”

Kiichiro Sato/AP
The Pittsburgh Steelers side of the field is nearly empty during the playing of the national anthem before an NFL football game between the Steelers and Chicago Bears, Sept. 24, 2017, in Chicago.

“So we’re not participating today,” he said. “That’s our decision.”

During the anthem, several Steelers coaches were on the sidelines and one player, former Army Ranger Alejandro Villaneuva, stood near the tunnel to the team’s locker room, ESPN reported.

The decision by most Steelers not to participate was among the many varied responses today and over the weekend to Trump’s calling for the firing of NFL players who kneel in protest during the anthem.

This afternoon, both the Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans, who are playing each other today, made separate announcements that there will be nobody from either team on the sidelines for the anthem.

“As a team, we wanted to be unified in our actions today. The players jointly decided this was the best course of action. Our commitment to the…

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