Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers posted a photo to Instagram on Sunday morning that shows him and his fellow teammates kneeling:
The photo, captioned “#unity #brotherhood #family #dedication #love,” comes as President Donald Trump went after the NFL on Friday night at a rally for Republican Senate candidate Luther Strange. The president suggested that any player that takes a knee or protests during the national anthem should be fired.
“Get that son of a b—- off the field right now, out. He’s fired. He’s fired!” Trump said.
The president doubled down on his statements on Saturday, taking to Twitter to continue his attacks on NFL players protesting the national anthem.
“If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem,” Trump tweeted. “If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”
Trump’s comments have since sparked growing backlash from the NFL community and prompted criticism from league Commissioner Roger Goodell, the NFL Players Association, and several players.
On Sunday, dozens of players on both sides knelt and locked arms during the national anthem ahead of the game between the Ravens and Jaguars.
The Pittsburgh Steelers said the team won’t be on the field at all when the national anthem plays before Sunday’s game.
Goodell said on Saturday that Trump’s “divisive comments” showed “an unfortunate lack of respect” for the league and players.
“The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture,” Goodell said. “There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we’ve experienced over the last month.”
Trump hit back at Goodell on Sunday morning, tweeting his frustration with the league.
“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!” Trump tweeted.
The NFL Players Association, the labour union representing the players, responded to Trump in a statement on Saturday. Here’s an excerpt of the statement:
“The peaceful demonstrations by some of our players have generated a wide array of responses. Those opinions are protected speech and a freedom that has been paid for by the sacrifice of men and women throughout history. This expression of speech has generated thoughtful discussions in our locker rooms and in board rooms. However, the line that marks the balance between the rights of every citizen in our great country gets crossed when someone is told to just ‘shut up and play.'”
The Packers face off against the Cincinnati Bengals in this round.
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