President Donald Trump spoke of stamping out NFL players’ protests during the national anthem, but his comments at a Friday night rally and subsequent tweets on Saturday could end up amplifying the number of demonstrations before Sunday’s games.
“It’s going to happen. I am so interested to see what’s going to happen tomorrow. This has sent ripples throughout the league,” former NFL player and current political activist Donte’ Stallworth told USA TODAY Sports. “The only way to stop a bully is to stand up and show him you can’t bully me. If you are going to try to bully me, there is going to be push back. I’m glad players have been tweeting about it and speaking up about it. But it has to go further than tweets.”
During his comments at a Huntsville, Ala. rally Friday night, Trump singled out former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for protesting during the national anthem last season. But a handful of NFL players have continued some form of silent protest for social justice during the 2017 season, even as Kaepernick remains unemployed.
Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett and Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters are among those that have chosen to sit, and several players, including Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and Los Angeles Rams linebacker Robert Quinn, have raised a fist. A group of about a dozen Cleveland Browns players knelt in prayer during the anthem before a preseason game in August.
But in the wake of Trump’s comments aimed directly at NFL players, there are signs the protests could grow or become more organized.
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