What every NFL team did during the national anthem

Widespread calls for demonstrations at Sunday’s games erupted after President Donald Trump’s comments this weekend criticizing players for kneeling during the national anthem and owners for tolerating the displays. Starting with Jacksonville’s game against Baltimore in London, players, coaches and several owners protested across the league.

Here is a look at what each team did during the playing of the national anthem:

Tennessee Titans at Seattle Seahawks

Neither team was on the field for Meghan Linsey’s singing of the national anthem.

While the Titans’ not participating was something of a surprise, the Seahawks had announced in advance that they would not participate.

“As a team, we have decided we will not participate in the national anthem,” the team said in a statement. “We will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of color in this country. Out of love for our country and in honor of the sacrifices made on our behalf, we unite to oppose those that would deny our most basic freedoms.”

The complete lack of players made for a bizarre scene in which team mascots and game officials were the only figures television cameras could focus on besides the flag and Linsey. Unlike some other stadiums, where fans booed at the protests, the fans in Seattle were eerily quiet during the anthem, and after the song’s conclusion the players began running onto the field.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Chicago Bears

Another dramatic demonstration came from the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were playing the Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago. The entire Steelers team remained off the field during the playing of the national anthem, while some of the team’s coaches, including Mike Tomlin, were on the sideline. The one Pittsburgh player seen during the anthem was Alejandro Villanueva, a former Army Ranger who served in Afghanistan, who was in the tunnel with his hand over his heart. The players took the field at the conclusion of the anthem. Bears stood on the sideline with their arms linked together.

Miami Dolphins at New York Jets

Christopher Johnson, the acting owner of the Jets, joined his players in locking arms during the anthem. The Jets have yet to comment on Trump’s remarks in spite of the fact that Johnson’s father, Woody, is a close ally of the president and the current ambassador to Britain.

Shaun King, a columnist for The Intercept who is closely associated with the Black Lives Matter movement, claimed Jets players were discouraged from protesting.

The Dolphins had several players wear “#IMWITHKAP” T-shirts in support of Colin Kaepernick, the player whose own protests last season started the movement that is now boiling over. The team also had players linking arms, with several kneeling.

Baltimore Ravens at Jacksonville Jaguars

In London, the game between the Ravens and the Jaguars began with the anthem being played as more than a dozen players from the two teams knelt for the duration of the anthem. Coach John Harbaugh of the Ravens, coach Doug Marrone of the Jaguars and Shahid Khan, the owner of the Jaguars, stood locking arms with players and coaches on the field as well. After the American anthem had concluded, the kneeling players all stood for the British national anthem.

Houston Texans at New England Patriots

The Patriots have often been seen as allies of Trump. The president has claimed to be friendly with the team’s owner, Robert Kraft, and its star, Tom Brady. But Kraft condemned the president’s remarks, and the Patriots were one of the many teams to demonstrate during the anthem, with Brady locking arms with many of his teammates while around 20 players chose to kneel. The Texans players all chose to lock arms.

New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia’s owner, Jeffrey Lurie, joined the Eagles players on the sideline, locking arms as a group, while some of the team split off to surround Malcolm Jenkins, a player who since last season has stood with a raised fist during the anthem. Torrey Smith and Marcus Johnson also raised their fists this week. Olivier Vernon, Landon Collins and Damon Harrison of the Giants became the first players from that team to kneel during the anthem, while the rest of the team stood with arms linked. After a touchdown in the second half, Odell Beckham Jr. dropped the ball and stood in the end zone with a raised fist, continuing the demonstrations from earlier in the day.

Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers

Melvin Ingram knelt, a group of five players sat and the rest of the Chargers locked arms during the anthem. On the other side of the field, the Chiefs were in an interesting position, as that team’s chairman, Clark Hunt, has regularly stated that he prefers that his players stand for the anthem. But Hunt somewhat backed away from that stance with a statement that read, in part, “We believe in honoring the American flag and supporting all of those whose sacrifices protect the many freedoms with have in this country, including the right to have differences of opinion.” Some of the Chiefs players were seen kneeling or sitting during the anthem, including Marcus Peters, who sat while raising his fist. The strongest statement came from the team’s standout linebacker, Justin Houston, who chose to kneel by himself by the team’s bench, facing the crowd rather than the field.

Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions

Atlanta’s owner, Arthur Blank, who had already issued a statement denouncing the president’s remarks, joined his players on the sideline during the anthem, locking arms, as did Detroit’s owner, Martha Ford, and her three daughters. Rico Lavelle, who performed the anthem, took at knee at the conclusion of the song and raised his fist.

Cleveland Browns at Indianapolis Colts

The crowd in Indianapolis was booing loudly as players on both teams chose to either lock arms or kneel. The Browns had around 20 players kneeling. The owners of the team, Jimmy and Dee Haslam, said in a statement that “We must not let misguided, uninformed and divisive comments from the president or anyone else deter us from our efforts to unify.”

“Our stance in support of the liberties of peaceful, personal expression afforded to our players and all Americans will remain strong, and we will continue to encourage our players to respectfully use their earned platform to inspire positive change in our nation and throughout society,” it continued. Despite the booing, the Colts had several players kneel during the anthem as well.

Denver Broncos at Buffalo Bills

The Broncos, who have had players protesting since last season, had more than 30 players kneeling during the anthem (including some practice squad members) while the Bills had one of the more unusual demonstrations, with the entire team walking about 10 yards onto the field together before having several players kneel.

New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers

Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram were part of a group of around 10 members of the Saints who stayed on the bench during the anthem. The Panthers stood for the anthem, as they have since the protests began last season. The Panthers’ Julius Peppers was not on the field during the anthem — he arrived after it had ended — but the team has not issued a statement as to whether his absence was a protest of any kind.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings

While no players on the Vikings chose to kneel during the anthem, the entire team, and the team’s owners, stood with their arms linked. Tampa Bay had two players kneel during the anthem, DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans. “The Buccaneers recognize every individual’s constitutional right to freedom of speech, which is crucial to the American way of life that we cherish,” the team said in a statement. “We are equally committed to the principles of inclusivity and respect for differing points of view that should be afforded to all Americans.”

Cincinnati Bengals at Green Bay Packers

Martellus Bennett, Kevin King and Lance Kendricks of the Green Bay Packers all sat during the anthem, while most of the players on that team stood with their arms linked, while most of the Bengals players chose to link arms but none knelt. Bennett’s protest came a day after he unleashed a series of texts criticizing the president’s remarks about football players.

Oakland Raiders at Washington Redskins

The entire offensive line of the Oakland Raiders, the only line in the NFL made up entirely of African-American players, was joined by virtually the entire team in kneeling or sitting during the national anthem. It was one of the strongest visual displays of the many protests on Sunday, and across the field, the Redskins stood with linked arms as some players chose to kneel.

Many fans in attendance at FedEx Field could be heard booing the players while they sat.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

Miller Grove 79, Buford 75
Miller Grove 79, Buford 75

Maurice Harvey’s leg was cramping so bad that he could hardly walk to the locker room after Miller Grove’s game on Thursday. But after scoring a career-high 30 points, there was no way the junior was going to miss a few minutes of post-game celebration.  Harvey was the offensive spark for the No. 3-ranked Wolverines all night as they...
Everything you need to know about Friday’s Braves game
Everything you need to know about Friday’s Braves game

Baseball is back. The Braves play their game Friday, albeit a spring training game. Here’s everything you need to know:  Opponent: New York Mets Game time: 1:10 p.m. Site: Port St. Lucie, Fla. TV: None Radio: 1340 AM and 103.7 FM  Pitching for the Braves: Matt Wisler, Chase Whitley, Sam Freeman, Rex Brothers and others. Braves prospects...
Class AAAA boys: Upson-Lee 52, Salem 44

The name of the gym and the 59-game winning streak? Salem wasn’t fazed.  The Seminoles brought a 21-6 record and a slew of perimeter-oriented big players to The Castle, and some confidence.  They had the overflow crowd buzzing, a little nervously, with a lead after a quarter. “This is a great program,” Salem head coach Jarrod...
Photos: Morehouse edges rival Clark Atlanta again in basketball
Photos: Morehouse edges rival Clark Atlanta again in basketball

Atlanta University Center schools Morehouse and Clark Atlanta met in basketball again Thursday night. Morehouse prevailed again, 72-67. The AJC’s Hyosub Shin was on hand to chronicle the game with photos. Take a look at the photo gallery above. The SIAC schools met Feb. 8 at Clark Atlanta and Morehouse prevailed that time too, 97-96 in triple...
How much stock should you put into Braves’ spring games? Listen
How much stock should you put into Braves’ spring games? Listen

After three consecutive seasons with at least 90 losses, the Braves are aiming for more in the fourth year of their rebuilding project and there is legitimate reason for optimism.  Tune in to the second episode of the “Truth, Lies and Sacrifice Flies” Braves podcast to hear why you should never put too much stock in what happens during...
More Stories