Over 20 players on the 49ers took a knee during the national anthem with their hands over their hearts. While the Colts stood with locked arms for the playing of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” the team wore wore black T-shirts with the words “We Will” on the front and “Stand for equality, justice, unity, respect, dialogue, opportunity,” according to ESPN.
Ahead of the game, Pence shared a throwback selfie with his wife Karen saying they were “looking forward to cheering for our @Colts & honoring the great career of #18 Peyton Manning.” (The photo was from 2014 when they attended a Colts game while he was the governor of Indiana.)
However, a few hours later he updated his Twitter saying that he left the game following the display during the national anthem.
“I left today’s Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem,” the vice president wrote.
“At a time when so many Americans are inspiring our nation with their courage, resolve, and resilience…now, more than ever, we should rally around our Flag and everything that unites us,” he continued. “While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I don’t think it’s too much to ask NFL players to respect the Flag and our National Anthem.”
“I stand with @POTUS Trump, I stand with our soldiers, and I will always stand for our Flag and our National Anthem,” he said. Pence then shared a photo of him and his wife standing with their hands over their hearts during the game.
President Donald Trump revealed that he had told Pence to leave the game if any players knelt during the national anthem.
“I asked @VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country,” Trump wrote. “I am proud of him and @SecondLady Karen.”
Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., commended Pence, writing on Twitter, “Amen. After almost a decade it’s great to have leaders who have pride in our country again.”
During a rally speech in Alabama last month, Trump stated, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, say, ‘Get that son of a b–ch off the field right now. Out, you’re fired.’ ”
He followed the comment up by pouring more gasoline on the fire with a series of tweets. “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,” he wrote. “If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”
In the weeks since, multiple NFL teams have made statements by kneeling, locking arms or staying in the locker room during the playing of the anthem as a message of protest against Trump’s comments.
Numerous celebrities — including Diddy — have also joined in standing behind the players, causing a resurgence of the #TakeAKnee hashtag on social media.
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In August 2016, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick made headlines — and sparked a movement — when he took a knee during the national anthem.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said at the time. “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.”