Just days after The NFL decided not to enforce a platform-wide rule with regard behavior during the national anthem, AP journalists counted 22 players protesting during the anthems in some way before day games. Some took a knee, others sat on the bench, stayed in the tunnel or raised a fist. Admittedly this is considerably fewer than the 200 players that protested during the week following President Trump’s comments that disrepsectful players should be fired, but it was enough to stir the president back on to Twitter…
Two dozen NFL players continue to kneel during the National Anthem, showing total disrespect to our Flag & Country. No leadership in NFL!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 23, 2017
As Bloomberg reports, on Sunday, the Seahawks and 49ers had the most protesters.
Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett and seven Seahawks teammates did not stand during the anthem before their game with the New York Giants.
As a New York City police officer sang the anthem, Bennett was joined by defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, defensive end Brandon Jackson, defensive end Marcus Smith, defensive tackle Jarran Reed, defensive end Frank Clark and defensive end Quinton Jefferson. Defensive end Cliff Avril, scratched for the game, sat between Clark and Bennett.
Another teammate stood with his left arm on Bennett’s back. One Seattle player kneeled.
In San Francisco, about a half-dozen 49ers kneeled led by Eric Reid, Marquise Goodwin, rookie linebacker Reuben Foster, Eli Harold, Adrian Colbert and K’waun Williams. All the Dallas Cowboys stood , but defensive tackle David Irving raised his fist after the anthem ended.
“I know that he was very deliberate during the anthem, and of course that’s the issue with me,” said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who had threatened to bench players who protested the anthem. “I’m very proud of the way they all handled themselves.” In Cleveland, Titans wide receiver Rishard Matthews stayed inside the tunnel during the national anthem. Chargers left tackle Russell Okung stood with his right fist raised during the anthem before Los Angeles hosted the Denver Broncos.
It seems clear from President Trump’s tweet that he is once again taking direct aim at Roger Goodell, who has flip-flopped around this issue for weeks.
Commissioner Roger Goodell and several owners said Wednesday that changing the language from “should stand” to “must stand” was not discussed at the league’s fall meetings.
Jones said he is concerned about how the protests are affecting the league’s business.
“There’s no question that the league is suffering negative things from these protests,” Jones said.
“I’m first and foremost a proponent of making the league strong and make us have as many people watching the game as we can. … Let’s not do it in a way that tears down the strength of the NFL.”
Paid attendance at Sunday’s games showed tickets still are selling well, although there were many empty seats at home games for struggling teams.