The first NFL game of Sept. 24 started with a powerful protest

Image: Joe Toth/BPI/REX/Shutterstock

Less than 48 hours after President Donald Trump began vocally lashing out at NFL players, some of those players struck back on the field. 

During an Alabama rally for senatorial candidate Luther Strange, Trump went way off script and began calling any football players who took a knee during the national anthem a “son of a bitch.” He doubled down on this hardly-veiled attack on former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick on Saturday with a series of tweets that called on owners to fire any player who didn’t stand during the song.

Well, during the first NFL game after Trump’s comments, two full teams — and one owner — have made it known what they think about the president’s opinion. 

The Baltimore Ravens played against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Wembley Stadium, London, on Sunday morning. There, both teams linked arms and 27 players and staff knelt during the national anthem, a direct response to the commander-in-chief. It was the most players ever to take this action in a single game. 

The players weren’t alone, either. Jaguars owner Shad Khan, who has been a supporter of Trump, also stood arm-in-arm with the team mates on the sidelines. 

Khan then released a statement pledging his commitment to the players in the midst of “divisive and contentious” remarks made by our president. 

“Our team, and the National Football League reflects our nation, with diversity coming in many forms – race, faith, our views, and our goals,” his statement read. “We have a lot of work to do, and we can do it, but the comments by the president make it harder.”

Trump’s fiery tweets on Saturday proved he meant to target a broader swath of players than just Kaepernick. The tweets called out what he saw as players gravely disrespecting the country.

“If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect… our Great American Flag (or Country) [sic] and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!” two of his tweets read.

Kaepernick began taking a knee during the national anthem in 2016 to protest police violence against black people and to raise awareness and support for the Black Lives Matter movement. 

There are 14 games left to play today, beginning at 1 p.m. EST. This will surely not be the last we see of players banding together to send a message to Trump. There’s already evidence that one, the Pittsburgh Steelers, intends to send a stark message to the president

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