LONDON — The New Orleans Saints' decision to protest racial inequality and police brutality during the national anthem of Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers has sparked blowback from Louisiana legislators, some of whom have called for the organization to forbid such protests in the future.
The Saints and Pelicans released a statement on Sunday expressing support for the players' right to free speech.
Saints head coach Sean Payton, who said he does not know if the organization would require players to stand, indicated the team will discuss the anthem at some point this week.
“I’m not aware of the specifics at home or the groups that are for or against it," Payton said. "I’m sure as a team and organization here we’ll have a more organized plan."
Payton expressed his own support for the players on Sunday, telling reporters he was proud of the 10 players who sat during the anthem and condemning President Donald Trump's comments against player protests as divisive.
Sunday's demonstration by the Saints was improvised; Trump's comments came so late in the week that the team's reaction was individual. Payton indicated the team is working on a unified symbol for Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins.
"I think we will have a plan in regards to how we are going to handle it," Payton said.
Payton, quarterback Drew Brees, defensive end Cameron Jordan and running back Mark Ingram have all expressed a desire for the Saints' next demonstration to be as one body.
"We're going to come up with something that unifies everybody," Ingram said. "That's what we're trying to bring is unity, and bring this world together. When the entire team does something the same, I think it's more powerful that way."