© 2020 WFAE
90.7 Charlotte 93.7 Southern Pines 90.3 Hickory 106.1 Laurinburg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

NFL Players, Coaches Protest National Anthem After Trump's Attacks

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Yesterday was an extraordinary moment for the National Football League.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Singing) Whose broad stripes and bright stars...

CHANG: As the national anthem played in stadiums across the country, hundreds of players, joined by coaches and even team owners, knelt, locked arms or stayed off the field entirely during the anthem.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Some players have made a practice of kneeling during the anthem as a form of protest against racial inequality but not on this scale. This was largely a response to comments President Trump made at a political rally Friday.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, get that son of a [expletive] off the field right now? Out - he's fired. He's fired.

(CHEERING, APPLAUSE)

SIEGEL: The president doubled down on that sentiment over the weekend.

CHANG: And players did not keep quiet.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MICHAEL THOMAS: It just amazes me with everything else that's going on in this world, especially involving the U.S., that's what you're concerned about, my man? You're the leader of free world.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DESHONE KIZER: Once again, this is a tragedy in our country that we have to sit here and still have these discussions. I know for a fact that I'm no son of a [expletive].

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ALEX SMITH: Targeting the quality of the character of guys in this league - I find that very alarming. This is the same guy that couldn't condemn violent neo-Nazis.

CHANG: That was Miami Dolphins' Michael Thomas, the Cleveland Browns' DeShone Kizer and the Kansas City Chiefs' Alex Smith.

SIEGEL: Team owners also weighed in, including several who supported Trump during his presidential run. Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots said this in a statement. I am deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the president. There is no greater unifier in this country than sports and unfortunately nothing more divisive than politics. I support their right to peacefully affect social change and raise awareness in a manner that they feel is most impactful.

CHANG: Not all players supported using the national anthem as a moment of protest. Here's New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DREW BREES: There will always be issues with our country. There will always be things that we're battling. But if the protest becomes that we're going to sit down or kneel or not show respect to the flag of the United States of America and everything that it symbolizes, everything that it stands for, everything our country's been through to get to this point, I do not agree with that.

CHANG: And many fans took issue. Patriot fans booed their own team after players took a knee.

(BOOING) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.