What to Know
- President Trump sparked outrage after he said NFL players who kneel during the national anthem should be fired
- In response, players from across the country, including from the Giants and Jets, showed support for the protests during games Sunday
- The Jets and Giants released statements showing solidarity with the players
Jets and Giants players locked arms at their respective games Sunday in a show of solidarity with NFL players across the country, dozens of whom demonstrated during the national anthem following inflammatory comments this weekend from President Trump.
At the Jets home opener, players from the Jets and Miami Dolphins both interlocked arms and knelt during the playing of the national anthem. Members of the Giants and Philadelphia Eagles also locked arms at their game. Some fans raised their fists to show support.
Giants co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch released a joint statement Saturday, saying they take issue with Trump’s statement.
“Comments like we heard last night from the president are inappropriate, offensive and divisive. We are proud of our players, the vast majority of whom use their NFL platform to make a positive difference in our society,” the statement read.
Jets officials came under criticism after they were initially silent following the president’s remarks.
In a statement, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer said he’s been a Jets fan all his life, but “through all the seasons, what has disappointed me the most has been the last 36 hours and ownership’s failure to condemn President Trump’s hateful words.”
“I’m shocked ownership would fail to reject hate from this White House,” Stringer said in the statement.
On Sunday afternoon, Jets Chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson released a statement accompanied by photos of him locking arms with players.
“It was an honor and a privilege to stand arm-in-arm unified with our players during today’s National Anthem. We are very proud of our players and their strong commitment to work in our community to make a positive, constructive, and unifying impact,” the statement read.
NFL players, coaches, owners and executives have used the anthems to show solidarity in the wake of comments Trump made about players who kneel during the anthem. The president said those players should be fired and that football fans should boycott the NFL if the protests continue.
Trump’s initial remarks came at a rally Friday night, when he said: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Somebody get that son-of-a-b---- off the field right now, out! He’s fired.”
A handful of NFL players have refused to stand during the anthem to protest several issues, including police brutality. But that number ballooned Sunday following the president’s two-day weekend rant that continued Saturday with the president rescinding a White House invitation for the NBA champion Golden State Warriors over star Stephen Curry's critical comments of him.
Unity. pic.twitter.com/puD77lwORk— New York Jets (@nyjets) September 24, 2017
The movement started more than a year ago when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand during the national anthem as a protest to police treatment of racial minorities. This season, no team has signed him, and some supporters believe NFL owners are avoiding him because of the controversy.
Those who have followed the drama unfolding this weekend between the president and athletes expressed varying views of the protests.
"I am an American, number one, and I understand where that feeling comes from," said Stephanie Deperna, of Albany. "But at the same time, being a minority, I understand the feeling on the other side too."
"The stand-down, should it be illegal? No. But you should have respect for your country. Support your brother," Joseph Fasolina, of Plainview, said.
Others were simply taken aback by Trump's attacks on players and his calls for an NFL boycott.
"I was shocked. That's not something you'd think you'd hear from the president," said Larry Reviera, of Brooklyn.
And some wanted to steer clear of the conversation altogether.
"Football and politics should stay on opposite ends," said New Rochelle resident Steve Stone.
As he left his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, for Washington, D.C., on Sunday, Trump addressed criticism his comments are inflaming racial tensions.
"This has nothing to do with race," he said. "I've 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."
Meanwhile, some NASCAR team owners including Richard Childress and Richard Petty sided with Trump, saying they would fire any employee who didn't stand for the anthem.