New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton said after Sunday's win over the Carolina Panthers that he's "proud of every one of those guys" on the team who sat in protest during the national anthem.
Meanwhile, quarterback Drew Brees maintained his opinion that standing together for the anthem is one of the best ways to unify the country. Still, he had harsh words for President Trump's comments about protesters, saying, "I disagree with what the president said and how he said it. I thought it was unbecoming of the office."
Payton also was critical of the president: "We need a little more wisdom from that office." He added that, in his opinion, Trump divides the country every time he talks.
"Do I think that there's inequality in this country? Yes, I do. Do I think that there's racism? Yes, I do...," Brees said after the game. "If you're an American, I will always believe you should be standing, with hand over heart, respecting the flag."
That has been Brees' stance since then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first started the movement last year, refusing to stand during "The Star-Spangled Banner" to protest the treatment of black people by police.
The New Orleans Saints organization released a statement on Sunday afternoon condemning the …
Ten Saints players sat on the bench during the national anthem in protest, and four more players who stood near the group in a show of support before the team's game.
Rafael Bush, Kenny Vaccaro, Chris Banjo, Sheldon Rankins, Alex Okafor, Cameron Jordan, Adrian Peterson, Alvin Kamara, Brandon Coleman and Mark Ingram all sat. Thomas Morstead, Marshon Lattimore, Craig Robinson and Coby Fleener stood nearby with hands on teammates' shoulders.
The protest came two days after controversial comments by President Donald Trump.
The Saints and Pelicans organizations released a statement roughly half an hour before the start of Sunday's game, saying that Trump's comments were "disappointing and inappropriate." The statement expressed support for the players, and also expressed the team's respect for the flag and the anthem.
The Saints' decision to sit during the anthem is part of a league-wide protest in backlash to comments made by President Donald Trump this weekend.
President Trump told supporters in Alabama on Friday night that NFL owners should fire any player who takes a knee during the national anthem, called players who participate in protests "sons of (expletive)" and doubled down on his opinions by reiterating them on Twitter on both Saturday and Sunday.
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Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began a movement of protests around the league last year by kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutality and racial inequality in the United States. Kaepernick has donated more than $2 million to organizations fighting the same causes, and other players who kneeled, like Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall met with police departments to discuss their use-of-force policy.
Earlier this year, a group of Cleveland Browns knelt during the national anthem together, prompting an outcry from police, and after the two groups met, the Browns and the Cleveland police force took the field hand in hand.
Trump's comments sparked a new round of protests around the NFL on Sunday. Players from the Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens, who played in an early kickoff in London, joined arms in a sign of unity, and 24 players kneeled before the kickoff.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, NFLPA president DeMaurice Smith and owners from at least 16NFL teams, including the Saints, have backed the players' right to protest.
LONDON (AP) — Former LSU and Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette was among a…
Executives from the Buffalo Bills, Green Bay Packers, Denver Broncos, Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Chargers, Tennessee Titans, Seattle Seahawks, Philadelphia Eagles, Houston Texans, Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota Vikings, Jacksonville Jaguars and New England Patriots have all released statements. Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a friend and supporter of Trump, issued a statement supporting his players and expressing disappointment in Trump's comments.
According to ESPN, Oakland owner Mark Davis has asked his players not to protest in uniform before, but Trump's comments have prompted him to change that request.
A few owners have taken the step of participating in protest with their players.
Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan, who donated $1 million to Donald Trump's inauguration, took the field for the national anthem in London, locking arms with two of his players as 24 players from the Ravens and Jaguars kneeled. Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank has indicated that he will be on the field in solidarity with his players.
Photos: From London to U.S., see NFL player protests across the league
NFL players used the national anthem to show their defiance to President Donald Trump's criticism, with at least 100 players kneeling or sitting in protest and one team staying in the locker room. Most teams in the early afternoon games locked arms in solidarity. At least three team owners joined their players.