In response to President Donald Trump’s comments that called for NFL players protesting during the national anthem to be fired or suspended, more than half of the franchises in the NFL issued statements supporting the rights of their players to protest. So far, only seven teams – including the Carolina Panthers – have yet to issue a statement from any team official.
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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell responded to Trump’s comments, too.
“The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture,” Goodell said in a statement. “There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we've experienced over the last month. 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.”
Here is a running list of team statements, to be updated as they are released:
Packers president/CEO Mark Murphy: "It's unfortunate that the President decided to use his immense platform to make divisive and offensive statements about our players and the NFL. We strongly believe that players are leaders in our communities and positive influences. They have achieved their positions through tremendous work and dedication and should be celebrated for their success and positive impact. We believe it is important to support any of our players who choose to peacefully express themselves with the hope of change for good. As Americans, we are fortunate to be able to speak openly and freely."
Saints owner Tom Benson (who also owns the NBA franchise New Orleans Pelicans): "Our organization takes great pride in equality and inclusion and find the comments by the President disappointing and inappropriate relative to our players on the isuse. Tom Benson served in the military and continues to this day to support all military branches and feels strongly that we honor those men and women who defend our freedoms and our freedom of speech. He also believes that the very players that represent the Saints and Pelicans organizations should be allowed to share or express their feelings. We prefer to take this moment in time and work together, all of us, to stop the divisiveness. Our players and our organization serve the New Orleans community selflssly and do so without care of race, creed or sexual orentation and that makes us a better city and better team. We believe strongly in honoring our flag and the national anthem and what it represents, and we support our players. We all must strive to show that we are all Americans and continue to work towards equality for all. The NFL and NBA, perhaps more than any sports, have the power to bring communities together."
Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk: “I am proud to stand with our players and support them in their work on and off the football field. I completely agree with Commissioner Goodell that we are better off as a nation when we are unified and pulling together. I have seen that kind of attitude first-hand in Tennessee and across our country in the many benevolent and public-spirited efforts of our NFL players, often without any public recognition.
Our players make public contributions day-in and day-out and when I hear anyone making disparaging remarks about them, I know it has to be the result of not knowing what they bring to our communities or what they have accomplished.”
Chargers owner Dean Spanos: "I wholeheartedly agree with the commissioner's statement. The NFL and its players, more than anything, have been a force for good. What our country needs right now is a message of unity, civility and mutual respect."
Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford: “Our game has long provided a powerful platform for dialogue and positive change in many communities throughout our nation.
“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.”
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin: “You know, these are very divisive times for our country and for us as a football team it's about us remaining solid. We're not going to be divided by anything said by anyone. ... "[I told our players] if you feel the need to do anything I'm going to be supportive of that -- as Americans you have that right. But whatever we do we're going to do 100 percent, we're going to do together. We're not going to let divisive times or divisive individuals affect our agenda.”
Bucs players, including receiver DeSean Jackson: “I definitely will be making a statement. No disrespect to our military. … But we have to stick together as people!! Unity.”
Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti: “We respect their demonstration and support them 100 percent, Bisciotti said in a statement. "All voices need to be heard. That's democracy in its highest form.”
Raiders owner Mark Davis: “About a year ago, before our Tennessee game, I met with Derek Carr and Khalil Mack to ask their permission to have Tommie Smith light the torch for my father before the game in Mexico City. I explained to them that I was asking their permission because I had previously told them that I would prefer that they not protest while in the Raiders uniform. And should they have something to say, once their uniform was off, I might go up there with them. Over the last year, though, the streets have gotten hot and there has been a lot of static in the air and recently, fuel has been added to the fire. I can no longer ask our team to not say something while they are in a Raider uniform. The only thing I can ask them to do is do it with class. Do it with pride. Not only do we have to tell people there is something wrong, we have to come up with answers. That’s the challenge in front of us as Americans and human beings.”
Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians: “I thought the commissioner had a great statement, and I agree with it. I’ve been in locker rooms for 25 years, and some of the most reputable men I’ve ever met wear that uniform.
"To even overcome the things in their life to get to the NFL is amazing. What they’ve done in the last month for hurricane relief victims speaks volumes of what we’re all about in the NFL.”