At a rally in Huntsville, Alabama, on Sept. 22, 2017, President Donald Trump took aim at the National Football League by calling on team owners to fire players who choose to take a knee during the national anthem.
“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, he’s fired,” the president exclaimed in front of a cheering crowd.
Well, NFL players, coaches, and owners had their chance to respond to those remarks before the games were played a few days later. Many teams decided to stand with their arms locked as a sign of unity during the anthem, while others went ahead with protests that we have not seen before. Here’s a look at the different demonstrations several teams and players took part in before the games as well as what President Trump thought of them.
Alejandro Villanueva was only Pittsburgh Steelers player to come out of the tunnel during national anthem
One of the most talked-about demonstrations was the one that took place at Soldier Field prior to the Chicago Bears and Pittsburgh Steelers game. Former Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva, who served three tours in Afghanistan, was the only player on his team to emerge from the tunnel during the national anthem. After the image of him standing alone with his hand over his heart circulated, sales for the army vet’s jersey skyrocketed.
However, Villanueva later explained that his presence outside the tunnel at the time was accidental.
“Unfortunately, I threw (my teammates) under the bus, unintentionally,” he said. “Every single time I see that picture of me standing by myself, I feel embarrassed. We as a team tried to figure it [what protest to do] out. Obviously we butchered it.”