Patriots, Broncos, Steelers and many others engage in mass protests

The New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Steelers and many other teams engaged in mass protests during the National Anthem during the opening round of games on Sunday afternoon.

President Donald Trump’s demand that players who exercise their First Amendment rights to assemble peacefully be fired for their actions at a rally in Huntsville, AL, on Friday night. Those comments were met with outrage from all corners of the NFL community.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Trump-supporting owners like Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Houston Texans owner Bob McNair and Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan all made statements admonishing Mr. Trump’s statements. Kraft, McNair and Khan all donated to Mr. Trump’s political campaign and Khan even engaged in protests with his team.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady locked arms with his teammates and nearly 20 Patriots players chose to kneel during the anthem, according to Ryan Hannable of WEEI.com. Over half of all Broncos players were on a knee for the anthem as Denver prepared to play the Buffalo Bills, according to Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post.

As for the Steelers, every player except Army veteran Alejandro Villanueva elected to stay in the tunnel during the National Anthem in Chicago. Villanueva stood in the tunnel with his hand over his heart singing every word.

Many other teams in many other games across the league also protested in one way or another on Sunday and many more protests are expected in the later games and in primetime games later this week.

Mr. Trump doubled down on his statement from Friday prior to kickoff on Sunday morning, encouraging fans to boycott if players continued to protest on Twitter. And it appears as if the confluence of sports and politics — which has always existed but is often ignored — will continue for quite some time.

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