CHARLOTTE, N.C. - During the National Anthem Sunday, ten New Orleans Saints players sat on the bench, and four more players stood near the group in a show of support before the team's game against the Carolina Panthers.
According to The New Orleans Advocate, the players were Rafael Bush, Kenny Vaccaro, Chris Banjo, Sheldon Rankins, Alex Okafor, Cameron Jordan, Adrian Peterson, Alvin Kamara, Brandon Coleman and Mark Ingram all sat. Thomas Morstead, Marshon Lattimore, Craig Robinson and Coby Fleener stood nearby with hands on teammates' shoulders.
All who sat on the bench were dressed out in uniform and able to physically play in Sunday's game.
The decision to sit out is part of a league-wide protest in response to comments made by President Donald Trump Saturday night and into Sunday morning.
If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
Roger Goodell of NFL just put out a statement trying to justify the total disrespect certain players show to our country.Tell them to stand!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
...our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU'RE FIRED. Find something else to do!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
Less than an hour before the game, the Saints issued a statement deeming the president's comments as "disappointing and inappropriate."
The statement, released on Twitter, also acknowledged owner Tom Benson's military service and said he believes players should be allowed to express their feelings.
The statement was also released on behalf of the NBA's New Orleans Pelicans organization, who Benson also owns.
The first NFL game after the president's comments on Twitter was the Jaguars third regular season game against the Baltimore Ravens in London. Several of them kneeled with their arms locked.
Players from multiple other teams, including the Broncos and Ravens took a knee during the National Anthem.
In Pittsburgh, Steelers Head Coach Mike Tom said his team wouldn't participate in the National Anthem to avoid playing politics. He opted for the team to stay in the locker room instead.
"We're not going to play politics. We're football players, we're football coaches," Tomlin said. "We're not participating in the anthem today - not to be disrespectful to the anthem, but to remove ourselves from the circumstance."
At a rally in Alabama on Friday, Trump said: "Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a b---- off the field right now. Out. He's fired. He's fired!"
After calling out NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Saturday for his response to the comments, Trump said on Twitter Sunday that players who protested should be fined or suspended.
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