NFL players defy fresh Trump call and take the knee in US national anthem protest
Smaller-scale, scattered demonstrations seen across the league, with a group of Cleveland Browns players raising their fists
NFL players protested during the US national anthem for a second straight week on Sunday, ignoring a fresh demand from President Donald Trump to stand for the playing of The Star-Spangled Banner.
A week after an unprecedented wave of racially charged protests by players, smaller-scale, scattered demonstrations were seen across the league.
Three members of the Miami Dolphins team were the first to take a knee during the anthem ahead of their team’s game against the New Orleans Saints at Wembley in London.
A handful of Buffalo Bills players could be seen kneeling for the anthem ahead of their game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Two Detroit Lions players took to one knee for the anthem before the game against the Minnesota Vikings, while a group of Cleveland Browns players stood with their fists raised ahead of their showdown with the Cincinnati Bengals.
But there appeared to be no protests in several other games, including the New England Patriots’ clash with the Carolina Panthers and the Dallas Cowboys home game with the Los Angeles Rams.
In Baltimore, Ravens fans booed their team as they took to one knee for a “moment of unity” ahead of their game against Pittsburgh. Both the Ravens and the Steelers players stood for the anthem.
Trump angered NFL stars, team owners and league officials on September 22 after describing players who had protested against racial injustice by refusing to stand for the anthem as “sons of bitches”.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began the protest in 2016 following the deaths of several African-American men during confrontations with police.
On Sunday, a smattering of boos from fans could be heard as around half of the San Francisco team dropped to one knee for the anthem ahead of their game at the Arizona Cardinals.
A statement from the 49ers said the team wanted to “speak up for those whose voice is not heard.”
“Make no mistake, we love this great country and have tremendous respect for our military and veterans who have sacrificed so much for our right to express ourselves freely,” the statement said.
“We passionately want what is best for this country and all its citizens.”
More than 150 players across the league knelt or sat down during the playing of the anthem last week.
The move drew criticism from Trump and fans, with accusations that the protesting players were disrespecting the national anthem and the US military.
On Saturday, Trump again raised the issue on Twitter, demanding players stand for the anthem.
“Very important that NFL players STAND tomorrow, and always, for the playing of our National Anthem. Respect our Flag and our Country!” Trump wrote.
US live television coverage of the Dolphins-Saints game on the Fox Sports network showed only one, fleeting wide-angle image of the kneeling Dolphins players.
Fox Sports had earlier said the London game would be the only fixture this weekend where live coverage of the anthems would be broadcast.
The protests during the national anthem have divided fans in America’s most popular sport.
A poll by CBS News found 52 per cent of Americans disapproved of athletes protesting during the anthem while 38 per cent said they approved.