Baltimore Ravens players, including former player Ray Lewis, second from right, kneel down during the playing of the U.S. national anthem before an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium in London, Sunday Sept. 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham) (Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Dozens of NFL players for the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars showed a unified front on Sunday and kneeled as the national anthem played during the start of their game in London, defying President Trump’s attacks on the the league's athletes.
Those who were not kneeling, including the coaches on both teams and Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, locked arms during the national anthem at the game in London’s Wembley Stadium. The Jaguars tweeted a photo of the defiant message shortly after with the caption: “Unity.” The players then stood up for “God Save the Queen,” the British anthem.
The display marked a tumultuous weekend between the NFL and Trump, who called the players kneeling during "The Star-Spangled Banner" disrespectful.
“If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast,” Trump tweeted Sunday morning. "Fire or suspend!”
He followed it up shortly after, tweeting: "…NFL attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN. Boring games yes, but many stay away because they love our country. League should back U.S."
His criticism began on Friday during a political rally in Alabama when he called for players to be fired who disrespect the American flag.
"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say 'get that son of a b —- off the field right now? He's fired,'" Trump said to the crowd.
His comments drew sharp criticism among professional athletes and NFL Commissioner Roger Coodell, who called Trump’s remarks “divisive.”
"Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities," Goodell said.