Donald Trump’s comments on Friday night at a rally in Alabama in which he called for NFL owners to fire the “sons of bitches” that kneel for the national anthem prior to games predictably became the lead topic of conversation around the league and, really, around the country.
With the president now putting himself in the middle of the already heated debate about anthem protests, what happened prior to Sunday’s games suddenly became as interesting if not more than the games themselves. There was no doubt that players were going to respond to Trump in great numbers, but, after calling on Roger Goodell and ownership to support them, how coaching staffs and owners would go about Sunday’s games became extremely intriguing.
The Jaguars and Ravens were in London on Sunday for a morning kickoff stateside, which provided us with a taste of what we could expect the rest of the day in the form of a powerful anthem protest from both teams.
Joining the players in the protest were a number of team staffers, with the Jaguars having the staff lined up with their arms linked with other players standing behind those kneeling. Among those linked with the players was Jaguars owner Shahid Khan in the most powerful statement yet from an owner in support of his players regarding protests.
Khan, who donated $1 million to Trump, explained why he felt it important to join his players on the sidelines following Trump’s comments.
You can see the totality of the Jaguars’ protest in this image, as it spanned the entire sideline.
On the Ravens side, the surprising sight was Ray Lewis joining Terrell Suggs and others that took a knee on the Baltimore sideline.
The rest of Sunday’s games figure to feature prominent protests as NFL players and teams respond to Trump and try to send a message to the president that they will not be silenced. Ahead of the games today, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers posted the following to Instagram.
And as some have pointed out on social media, Patriots QB Tom Brady appears to approve.
Finally, Rex Ryan, who supported Trump, did not mince words on ESPN this morning.
Today promises to be a memorable NFL Sunday, that’s for sure.