NFL players kneel during anthem at London game

Players for both the Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints took a knee on the field today during the opening moments of a football game on Sunday in London, the day after President Trump tweeted that it is “very important” that players stand up for the playing of the national anthem.

Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills, tight end Julius Thomas and safety Michael Thomas took a knee for the United States national anthem. Afterwards, along with every other player on the team, they stood up for the playing of the United Kingdom national anthem, “God Save the Queen.”

Across the field at the game at Wembley Stadium, the entire New Orleans Saints team took a knee for a moment, then rose as a group as “The Star-Spangled Banner” played.

The decision by the Saints appeared to follow the Dallas Cowboys’ lead. On Monday night, before “America’s Team” competed against the Arizona Cardinals, the players and their owner, Jerry Jones, displayed their own version of unity by kneeling on the field before rising as a group prior to the playing of the national anthem.

The move is a departure from the actions of dozens of NFL players who have deliberately been kneeling during the national anthem in defiance of Trump’s public scoldings over the silent protests, which began over a week ago and haven’t waned.

Tim Ireland/AP
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) kneels down with teammates before the U.S. national anthem was played ahead of an NFL football game against Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium in London, Oct. 1, 2017.

The kneeling protests began in the preseason of 2016, when former San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the anthem in response to police killings of black Americans. This season, numerous professional, college and high school athletes have picked up the silent protest.

The Saints and Dolphins’ protest took place on the fourth week of the football season, and a day after the president…

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