Thursday 14 December 2017

Miami Dolphins trio defy Donald Trump's call to stand for the national anthem

Miami Dolphins players kneel during the U.S. national anthem before the match. Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs
Miami Dolphins players kneel during the U.S. national anthem before the match. Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

Liam Blackburn

Three Miami Dolphins players defied US president Donald Trump's fresh assertion that NFL players should stand for the American anthem by kneeling at Wembley on Sunday.

Julius Thomas, Michael Thomas and Kenny Stills all took a knee during the Star-Spangled Banner nine days after Trump said that those who fail to stand for the anthem should be "fired".

On Saturday Trump had re-entered the debate on Twitter when he said: "Very important that NFL players STAND tomorrow, and always, for the playing of our National Anthem. Respect our Flag and our Country!"

The entire New Orleans Saints roster did so, many with their arms linked, though only after they took a collective knee in what quarterback Drew Brees had called "a way to show respect to all".

Seven days ago half-a-dozen Dolphins - British-born Jay Ajayi, Maurice Smith, Jordan Phillips, Laremy Tunsil, Julius Thomas and Stills - knelt prior to their loss to the New York Jets and two of those did so once more on foreign soil.

Safety Michael Thomas has knelt in the past and did so again this time. He had fought back tears last Sunday when asked about his president's comments, with Trump having described those who kneel as "sons of b******".

"It just amazes me with everything going on in this world, especially involving the US, that's what you're concerned with, my man," Thomas had said in the locker room.

"You're the leader of the free world - this what you talking about? As a man, as a father, as an African American man, as someone in the NFL, as one of those sons of b****** in the NFL, yeah I took it personally.

"But as I said in my Twitter post, it's bigger than me. I've got a daughter. She's going to have to live in this world. And I'm going to do whatever I have to do where she can look at her dad and be like, 'Hey, you did something. You tried to make a change'."

Wide receiver Stills was seen warming up in a '#IMWITHKAP' t-shirt in a show of support for Colin Kaepernick, the first NFL player who knelt last year over perceived racial injustice.

Quarterback Kaepernick has led a team in a recent Super Bowl but remains unemployed, with the theory he is being shunned because of his stance hard to ignore.

Earlier in the week the Saints had announced their intention to follow the lead of the Dallas Cowboys in taking a collective knee but standing for the anthem, which 10 of their players did not do the previous week.

In explaining their decision, owner Tom Benson had said: "One of the things I am most proud of is my military service.

"And there are few things that are more important to me than the honour that I feel we must bestow upon our military men and women - the honour we must show our flag - and standing at attention for our flag and our national anthem is a powerful symbol we must respect."

There were fewer players kneeling in London than there were a week ago when over 20 from the Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens did not stand.

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