How Many NFL Players Are Protesting? Trump's Criticism Sparked A Sunday Show Of Resistance

Jim Rogash/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

President Trump spent the weekend like many Americans: complaining about football. However, instead of bemoaning the loss of his favorite team or grumbling over his fantasy points, Trump criticized NFL players for taking a knee during the national anthem and pondered, "Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now.'" Unsurprisingly, his complaints had the opposite effect on many players — and yes, coaches and even owners — who protested on NFL Sunday in various ways.

Taking a knee instead of standing during the national anthem first gained the nation's attention in 2016 when then-San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick knelt to protest police brutality and racial injustice in America. He was heavily criticized by people who believed he unnecessarily brought politics into sports and for "disrespected" the military and the country. While the country debated whether it's "OK" to kneel during a patriotic song, his reasoning for protest at times went overlooked. At the time, Kaepernick said:

I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.

But despite that background, Trump has said NFL players don't have the right to protest. He tweeted, "If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU'RE FIRED. Find something else to do!"

Here's all the ways that backfired Sunday, as dozens and dozens of members of the NFL took a knee.

A Bunch Of Baltimore Ravens

In London's Wembley Stadium, many of the Baltimore Ravens kneeled during "The Star-Spangled Banner" but stood for the British national anthem, "God Save the Queen."

The Baltimore Ravens' Coach

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh joined in and locked arms with the players.

Controversial Retired Raven Ray Lewis

Also joining the Ravens was a retired team member, who got a lot of flack for his protest. Ray Lewis visited with President Trump and expressed support for his plans, saying, "What we believe, with the Trump administration, is if we can combine these two powers of coming together, forget black and white. Black or white is irrelevant."

Lewis has also spoken out about Kaepernick, saying, "I’ve never been against Colin Kaepernick. But I am against the way he’s done it," while talking about why he believes Kaepernick wasn't signed to the Ravens.

At Least A Dozen Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars were playing against the Ravens in London.

The Jacksonville Jaguars' Owner

Shad Khan, who is Pakistani-American and the only Muslim owner in the league, locked arms with two Jaguars during their protest. Khan, who is a Republican, has expressed support for Trump in the past, but says Trump is making things "harder."

We have a lot of work to do, and we can do it, but the comments by the President make it harder. That’s why it was important for us, and personally for me, to show the world that even if we may differ at times, we can and should be united in the effort to become better as people and a nation.

The Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers announced before their game Sunday that the team would remain in the locker room during the national anthem, not even coming out at all.

You can see the empty sideline.

Almost All The Denver Broncos

This National Anthem Singer

Rico LaVelle, who sung the national anthem at the Atlanta Falcons vs. Detroit Lions game, took a knee as well, evoking memories of Tommie Smith and John Carlos's iconic protest at the 1968 Olympics.

The Lions Owner & Coach

Detroit Lions owner Martha Ford linked arms with coach Mike Caldwell. She had previously released a statement against Trump's remarks, stating:

Thanks primarily to our players, the NFL also has been a unifying force in our country and impactful change has and hopefully will continue to be the result of peaceful expression, done so in order to highlight social injustices of all kind.
Negative and disrespectful comments suggesting otherwise are contrary to the founding principles of our country, and we do not support those comments or opinions.

The Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks released a statement affirming their unwillingness to stand for the "injustice that has plagued people of color in this country."

The Titans & The Seahawks Both

These Bucs

This Buffalo Bills Player

LeSean McCoy neither knelt nor stood, he took the time during the national anthem to stretch before the game.

Some Green Bay Packers

The Texans

The Philadelphia Eagles

New York Jets' Acting Owner

The New Orleans Saints

Whether it was standing in unity with locked arms, sitting, kneeling, or not even showing up at all, much of the NFL was protesting on Sunday. Trump, meanwhile, tweeted later in the evening:

Sports fans should never condone players that do not stand proud for their National Anthem or their Country. NFL should change policy!

We'll see.