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NFL San Francisco 49ers Eli Harold (58), Colin Kaepernick (7) and Eric Reid (35) kneel during the national anthem
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
Trump is fanning the trend started by quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
KICK OFF

NFL players, coaches protest Trump tweets saying they should be fired

By Janet Guyon & Ana Campoy

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:

AP Photo/Michael Conroy
Similar scenes were seen at games all over the country. Here several members of the Cleveland Browns take a knee.
AP Photo/Bill Kostroun
Miami Dolphins players listen to the Star-Spangled Banner.
Reuters/Paul Childs
Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan locked arms with his team’s players before their match against the Baltimore Ravens.
AP Photo/Carlos Osorio
Different forms of protest among the Atlanta Falcons before their game against the Detroit Lions.
AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato
A chain formed by the Chicago Bears during the national anthem; their opponents, the Pittsburgh Steelers, skipped the rendition altogether.
AP Photo/Steven Senne
Houston Texans in a line of interlocked ‘ arms before their game against the New England Patriots.
USA Today Sports/Timothy T. Ludwig
Some players, like these from the Denver Broncos, directly confronted Trump by kneeling.
USA Today Sports/Brad Rempel
Players from the Minnesota Vikings also linked their arms during the national anthem before the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.