With NFL players “taking a knee” Sunday to protest both racial injustice and Donald Trump’s recent comments aimed at the protests, singer Rico LaVelle supported the #TakeAKnee demonstration by kneeling during his performance of the National Anthem before the Detroit Lions game.
As Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions players on both sidelines locked arms and kneeled during the Star-Spangled Banner, LaVelle briefly paused during the song’s penultimate line to join the protesting players. With his hand in a fist and arm stretched upward, the singer concluded the anthem with a stirring “And the home of the brave.”
Throughout the NFL, players joined arms in protest, with players on most teams also kneeling during the anthem. In some cases, team owners joined their players on the field as a show of solidarity against Trump’s remarks; two days earlier at an Alabama rally, Trump called protesting players a “son of a bitch,” adding they should be fired or suspended for exercising their rights.
“It was a privilege to stand on the sidelines with the Jacksonville Jaguars today for the playing of the U.S. national anthem at Wembley Stadium,” Jaguars owner Shad Khan said Sunday. “I met with our team captains prior to the game to express my support for them, all NFL players and the league following the divisive and contentious remarks made by President Trump, and was honored to be arm in arm with them, their teammates and our coaches during our anthem.”
After the NFL, NFLPA and most teams condemned Trump’s comments, he doubled-down Sunday morning on Twitter by saying fans should boycott the NFL until it shut down the anthem protests. However, Trump’s tweets did nothing to diminish the demonstrations Sunday, with nearly every team taking part.
Tom Brady, who supported Trump’s presidential run, was among the high-profile players to link arms with teammates; on Sunday morning, New England Patriots owner and noted Trump donor Robert Kraft issued a statement saying he was “deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the President on Friday.”
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers also supported his teammates with a pre-game Instagram post:
In the case of the Pittsburgh Steelers, players made a team decision to remain in their locker room while the anthem was performed ahead of their game against the Bears in Chicago.
“These are very divisive times for our country,” Tomlin said (via Sporting News). “For us, as a football team, it’s about us remaining solid. We are not gonna be divided by anything said by anyone. That’s the thing that I posted to our guys. I said, ‘If you feel the need to do anything, I’m going to be supportive of that. As Americans, you have that right.’ But whatever we do, we’re gonna do 100 percent, we’re gonna do together. We’re not gonna let divisive times or divisive individuals affect our agenda.”
On Monday night, the Dallas Cowboys, “America’s Team,” also took part in the protest by kneeling and linking arms prior to the National Anthem; team owner Jerry Jones, a Trump donor who previously insisted that his players respect the anthem, joined his players on the field.
However, the Cowboys stood up before “The Star-Spangled Banner” was ultimately performed by Jordin Sparks. The singer staged her own demonstration by writing “Prov 31: 8-9” on her hand, a reference to the Proverbs passage that reads, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
The Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones locked arms and took a knee in unity prior to the national anthem pic.twitter.com/7kK3qVMDSo
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) September 26, 2017