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27 NFL players protest the American national anthem in response to Donald Trump's comments

Jacksonville Jaguar players show their protest during the National Anthem during the NFL International Series match between Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium on September 24, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Jacksonville Jaguar players show their protest during the National Anthem during the NFL International Series match between Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium on September 24, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

27 NFL players took a knee during the American national anthem before Sunday's Baltimore Ravens vs Jacksonville Jaguars game at Wembley Stadium in London.

16 Jacksonville players and 11 Baltimore players took a knee during the Star Spangled Banner in response to US President Donald Trump's comments on Friday that suggested that if NFL players want the privilege of making millions of dollars, they should be forced to stand for the anthem.

By contrast, Newstalk's Off The Ball  reported that all of the players stood for God Save the Queen,  the national anthem of the United Kingdom.

The 27 players is reportedly the highest number of players to protest the anthem during one single game.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick inspired a wave of protest last season when he routinely knelt during the Star Spangled Banner in protest of racial injustices and police brutality.

Kaepernick's movement has sustained its momentum this season through other high-profile NFL stars such as Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch and Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett, who both routinely sit in protest during the anthem.

In response, Trump escalated matters when he launched a scathing attack on all NFL players who kneel or sit during the anthem in an address he gave in Alabama on Friday night, where the President challenged the league’s owners to release any player who failed to stand during the anthem.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” the president said at a rally for Republican senator Luther Strange, who is running in a special election next week to remain in the seat vacated by attorney general Jeff Sessions.

“You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it [but] they’ll be the most popular person in this country.”

Trump followed up Friday's address with another attack on the league's players on Saturday suggesting that respecting the anthem should be part and parcel of an athlete's ability to make millions of dollars through sport.

Trump tweeted: "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) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU'RE FIRED. Find something else to do!"

NFL Players Association President Eric Winston said that he was 'extremely disappointed' in Trump's comments and that his remarks were a slap in the face to civil rights heroes both past and present.

“Our players are men who are great philanthropists, activists and community leaders who stand up for each other and their beliefs,” Winston wrote.

“I am extremely disappointed in the statements made by the President last night.

"The comments were a slap in the face to the civil rights heroes of the past and present, soldiers who have spilled blood in countless wars to uphold the values of this great nation and American people of all races, ethnicities, genders and sexual orientations who seek civil progress as a means to make this country, and this world, a better place.

“The divisiveness we are experiencing in this country has created gridlock in our political system, given voice to the extreme, fringe beliefs and paralyzed our progress as a nation.

"Divisiveness breeds divisiveness, but NFL players have proven to unify people in our country’s toughest moments and we will continue to do so now.

“We will not stop challenging others on how we can all come together to continue to make America the greatest country on earth.”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also weighed in on the issue and said that Trump's comments were divisive and that they showed a lack of respect for the league.

"The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture.

"Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities."

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