President Trump issues rebuke of protesting NFL players

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (August 10, 2018) - NFL players demonstrated during the national anthem at several preseason games Thursday night, protests that again drew a rebuke from President Donald Trump.

Writing on Twitter from his New Jersey golf resort, Trump said Friday players "make a fortune doing what they love," and those who refuse to stand "proudly" for the anthem should be suspended without pay.

He contended "most of them are unable to define" what they're demonstrating against." Instead, he said, players should "Be happy, be cool!"

In Philadelphia, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and cornerback De'Vante Bausby raised their fists during the anthem, and defensive end Chris Long placed his arm around Jenkins' shoulder. Jenkins had stopped his demonstration last December.

Defensive end Michael Bennett walked out of the tunnel during the anthem and walked toward the bench while it played. It appeared all the Steelers stood.

"Everybody is waiting for what the league is going to do," Jenkins said. "We won't let it stop what we stand for. I was very encouraged last year with the direction and that obviously took a different turn.

"I think it's important to utilize the platform as we can because for whatever reason, we have framed this demonstration in a negative light, and often players have to defend why we feel the need to fight for everyday Americans, and in actuality we're doing the right thing."

At Miami, Dolphins receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson and defensive end Robert Quinn protested during the anthem. Stills and Wilson kneeled behind teammates lined up standing along the sideline. Quinn stood and raised his right fist. There were no apparent protests by the Buccaneers.

And in Seattle, three Seahawks players ran into the team's locker room prior to the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Defensive linemen Branden Jackson and Quinton Jefferson, and offensive lineman Duane Brown left the field following team introductions and before the start of the anthem. They returned to the sideline immediately after it concluded. All three were among a group of Seattle players that sat during the anthem last season.

At Baltimore, both teams stood, but while most of the Ravens lined up shoulder to shoulder on the sideline, second-year linebacker Tim Williams stood alone in front of the bench with his back toward the field.

All players on each team at New England appeared to stand for the anthem, some bowing their heads and others placing their hands on their hearts. The Patriots observed a moment of silence beforehand for Weymouth, Massachusetts, police officer Michael Chesna, who was killed last month in the line of duty.

The league and the players' union have yet to announce a policy for this season regarding demonstrations during the anthem after the league initially ordered everyone to stand on the sideline when the anthem is played, or remain in the locker room.

"The NFL has been engaged in constructive discussions with the NFL Players Association regarding the anthem and issues of equality and social justice that are of concern to many Americans," league spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an email.

"While those discussions continue, the NFL has agreed to delay implementing or enforcing any club work rules that could result in players being disciplined for their conduct during the performance of the anthem.

"Meanwhile, there has been no change in the NFL's policy regarding the national anthem. The anthem will continue to be played before every game, and all player and non-player personnel on the field at that time are expected to stand during the presentation of the flag and performance of the anthem. Personnel who do not wish to do so can choose to remain in the locker room.

"We remain committed to working with the players to identify solutions and to continue making progress on important social issues affecting our communities."

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