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Here's how everyone's reacting to 200 NFL players protesting in defiance of Donald Trump

Stevie Wonder, Ellen Degeneres and Samuel L. Jackson have spoken out.

NFL's Colin Kaepernick National Anthem Protests Source: TNS/ABACA

A WEEK AGO only six American football players in the NFL refused to stand during the national anthem.

Yesterday, the protest continued, but this time 200 players ‘sat, knelt or raised their fists in defiance’.

Why? It all began over a year ago when NFL player Colin Kaepernick knelt to start a discussion about race and police brutality in America, refusing to stand for a national anthem in a country where he is not treated equally.

This season, Kaepernick (who played for the San Francisco 49ers at the time of his initial protest) has not been signed by a team, and it appears that it has a lot to do with the controversy he caused.

Before the NFL games this weekend, Donald Trump commented on the protests at a rally in Alabama.

Wouldn’t you love to see one of those NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’

He then said:

I think it’s very disrespectful to our country. I think it’s very, very disrespectful to our flag. [...] This has nothing to do with race. I never said anything about race. This has nothing to do with race or anything else. This has to do with respect for our country and respect for our flag.

The NFL’s commissioner Roger Goodell said that he was disappointed with the “divisive” comments, while a close friend of Trump, Robert Kraft (who owns the New England Patriots) said he was siding with the players and was “deeply disappointed” with Trump’s remarks as “there is no greater unifier in this country than sports”.

After these comments, yesterday’s first game saw 25 players from the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Baltimore Ravens kneeling.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Baltimore Ravens File Photo Source: Simon Cooper

The Guardian reported that no white players appeared to kneel but “many players, coaches and even the Jaguars’ owner Shahid Khan linked arms as they stood, showing unity for their black team-mates against Trump”.

After this, players from the Miami Dolphins were wearing black t-shirts supporting Kaepernick and they linked during the national anthem. Some teams remained in the tunnel during the national anthem to avoid choosing whether to participate in the national anthem or not.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Baltimore Ravens File Photo Source: Simon Cooper

Steve Bisciotti, who owns the Ravens, said that “We respect their demonstration and support them 100%”. Other team owners in the US have said that they respect their “freedom to peacefully express themselves.”

View this post on Instagram

#unity #brotherhood #family #dedication #love #

A post shared by Aaron Rodgers (@aaronrodgers12) on

However Trump threw a bit of a tantrum on Twitter and attacked the NFL as a ‘boring sport’, following the support for protests.

He tweeted:

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! NFL Attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN. Boring games yes, but many stay away because they love our country.

Other celebrities, including Stevie Wonder have also shown support for the protests.

At The Global Citizen Festival, Stevie Wonder announced on stage:

I’m taking a knee for America. But not just one knee! I’m taking both knees! Both knees in prayer for our planet, our future, our leaders of the world.

Source: Supreme video/YouTube

P. Diddy also took to Instagram to send a message of support to the NFL players ahead of yesterday’s games.

Y’all got a chance to do something really, really, really great tomorrow. If you do whatever you do in unity, you can’t be stopped. Stick together. Stand up for each other.

Ellen Degeneres expressed her solidarity on Twitter.

Samuel L. Jackson also commented.

Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner also addressed the issue on the NFL Network.

He said that the flag is a “symbol of the ideals of our great country, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. The anthem is a reminder of those things [...] We have this narrative that these protests are contradictory to our flag and contradictory to our military. I don’t see them that way. I see them as complementary to the ideals of the flag.”

Other sports stars have also spoken out against Trump.

Basketball player Steph Curry refused an invitation to visit the White House. Here was Donald Trump’s response.

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LeBron James spoke out in defense of Curry, calling Trump a ‘bum’.

However, not everyone is supportive of the protests.

The owners of NASCAR threatened to fire drivers and crew members who kneel in protest of the national anthem.

Funny how so many Trump supporters have claimed to be in favour of free speech all this time but are pretty quiet now that organisations are threatening to fire individuals for peacefully expressing themselves in solidarity with African Americans.

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About the author:

Kelly Earley

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