As nine National Football League games kicked off Sunday at 1 pm in the US, players and coaches across the country locked arms and kneeled to protest US president Donald Trump’s contention that they should be fired for kneeling to highlight racial inequality in the US.
Trump has called for team owners to fire players who kneel during the playing of the national anthem. He says the kneeling protest disrespects the country’s flag and public polls have said that a majority of Americans agree with him. The practice of kneeling during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner was kicked off last year by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to bring attention to police violence against African Americans. Kaepernick has yet to be hired to play for an NFL team this season.
Unlike other teams, the Pittsburgh Steelers opted not to come out on at the field during the playing of the anthem, except for left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, a former Army Ranger and graduate of West Point, who stood with his hand over his heart. “We came here to play a football game,” Steelers’ coach Mike Tomlin told CNN.
Below are photos of today’s protests: