Both the Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks were not on the field as the national anthem played before the two teams met in Nashville.
The decision came after teams across the league had demonstrations in response to President Trump’s comments on players that kneel during the anthem.
On Friday while speaking at a rally in Alabama, Trump asked the crowd “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!'”
Since then, teams, players, and commissioner Roger Goodell have all responded with statements defending players’ right to kneel, and on Sunday players and even some owners made their most public defiance of the president yet.
The Seahawks had already released a statement earlier in the week that explaining their decision to stay in the locker room during the anthem:
As a team, we have decided we will not participate in the national anthem. We will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of colour in this country. Out of love for our country and in honour of the sacrifices made on our behalf, we unite to oppose those that would deny our most basic freedoms. We remain committed in continuing to work towards equality and justice for all. Respectfully, The Players of the Seattle Seahawks.
When the Titans didn’t emerge from the tunnels before the anthem either, it made for a rather surreal scene. As singer Meghan Linsey took the microphone to begin, the field was almost completely empty, leaving cameras to toggle between showing the refs, fans, mascots, and Linsey herself.
After she finished singing, Linsey took a knee on the field.
You can watch the broadcast unfold below.
Seahawks beat writer Gregg Bell caught the scene from inside the stadium, where it was all the more obvious just how empty the field was.
The Seahawks and Titans weren’t the only team to choose to skip the anthem on Sunday. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin announced that his team had made a similar decision ahead of their matchup against the Bears in Chicago. One Steeler did end up taking the field — Alejandro Villanueva, an army ranger who served three tours of duty in Afghanistan before beginning his NFL career.
Both the Titans & Seahawks remained in their locker rooms during the national anthem while the singer took a knee during her performance. pic.twitter.com/zeBQhYbKPN
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) September 24, 2017
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