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.
— Colin Kaepernick, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Aug. 26, 2016

  • Aug. 27, 2016 Players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the national anthem. — NFL statement,
  • Aug. 27, 2016 (Tweet) Kaep has every right to express his feelings/beliefs and ppl have every right to disagree. That’s ok folks! — Damien Woody, former player
  • Aug. 27, 2016 Regardless of how you feel about the things that are going on in America today and the things that are going on across the world with gun violence and things of that nature, you’ve got to respect the flag. And you’ve got to stand up with your teammates. It’s bigger than just you, in my opinion. — Victor Cruz, former New York Giants wide receiver
  • Aug. 27, 2016 (Tweet) I will be STANDING during the National Anthem tonight. Thank you to ALL (Gender,Race,Religion) that put your lives on the line for that flag — Justin Pugh, New York Giants offensive lineman
  • Aug. 27, 2016 (Tweet) Easy way to make sure you're NOT the starting QB on opening day. — Matthew Hasselbeck, former quarterback
  • Aug. 27, 2016 (Tweet) Activists changed USA for better but have to associate Nat Anthem w/ military that die for ur right to protest. Stand up. Find another way — Tyler Polumbus, former player
  • Aug. 28, 2016 My view is [the anthem] is about honoring the people that served and made the commitment to our country, some who even made the ultimate sacrifice. When I stand, that's what I'm standing for. I'm standing for the people that came before my father and the people that came after him. — Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers head coach
  • Aug. 28, 2016 [The anthem] is important to me. It’s a respect thing, okay? It’s a self-respect thing. It’s a respect for your teammates. It’s a respect for this game. It’s a respect for this country … It’s an opportunity to realize how lucky you are and what you’re doing. — Jeff Fisher, former head coach
  • Aug. 28, 2016 Anytime I talk to my team about that, if there’s personal beliefs or whatever that keep you from doing it, I understand. But at the same time, you know, you’ve got to look at the gifts that we have, the opportunity that we have to play a great game is through the men and women that serve our country. I think that’s an opportunity right there just to show respect, and I think that’s why when you see our team, every one of us are on that line and that’s kind of our way of giving thanks. — Rex Ryan, former head coach
  • Aug. 28, 2016 I will always stand for the national anthem. I will also acknowledge the fact that racism is real. People deal with it every day. It's wrong. — Kyle Long, Chicago Bears offensive lineman

I agree that America is not perfect. I agree that there are a lot of issues with minorities in this country. And I agree that we should do something about it. But I don’t know if the most effective way is to sit down when the National Anthem of a country that has provided you freedom and is providing you $60 million a year is the best way to do it, when there are black minorities that are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan that are protecting our freedom for less than $20,000 a year.
— Alejandro Villanueva, Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman, Aug. 29, 2016

  • Aug. 29, 2016 I am with him 100 percent. ... Now if you ask me ‘Would I do that?’ No I won't, because I see it a little differently. I'm an American citizen, I pay my taxes, I want my equal rights but this is my country, and consequently I don't want to open up for ISIS or anybody that will take away what we've already gained. — Jim Brown, former Cleveland Browns player and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame
  • Aug. 29, 2016 I disagree. I wholeheartedly disagree. Not that he wants to speak out about a very important issue. No, he can speak out about a very important issue. But there's plenty of other ways that you can do that in a peaceful manner that doesn't involve being disrespectful to the American flag. — Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints quarterback
  • Aug. 29, 2016 I respect his decision to stand up for how he feels, but I don't think you do it in that manner. I think you stand up for the national anthem. It's bigger than just what's going on around our country. You've got people fighting for our lives, fighting for our country every day. — Kenny Vaccaro, New Orleans Saints safety
  • Aug. 30, 2016 It’s not equal justice and liberty for all. To stand up for what you believe in, to be willing to take the lumps and hits for what you believe in, I think he should be commended. — Bart Scott, former player
  • Aug. 30, 2016 I cannot say it in the strongest, most direct way, that it’s an embarrassment and it’s about as disrespectful as any athlete has ever been. ... I don’t care what the cause is. The NFL football field is not a place for somebody to further their political ambitions. — Boomer Esiason, former player and current analyst
  • Sept. 1, 2016 Things have happened in Louisiana and the injustices that are happening could have happened to one of my family members. It touched close to home and I just wanted to show my support to him and let him know that he is not the only person who feels the way that he feels. There are a lot of people out there that feel that way. — Eric Reid, San Francisco 49ers safety

A lot of scrutiny happens when an athlete starts talking about race, but the truth of the matter is we've just got to do right by each other, no matter what color you are. Certain things that have happened in our life, in our lifetime, it is kind of embarrassing to be affiliated with, but it still happens. Who am I to say, 'Colin, you're wrong'? And who am I to say, 'Bro, you're right?' Because we all have the right to think whatever we want to think, and I respect that about everybody.
— Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers quarterback, Aug. 1, 2016

  • Sept. 11, 2016 I’m not against the military. I’m not against the police or America. I’m against social injustice. — Brandon Marshall, Denver Broncos linebacker
  • Sept. 11, 2016 I come from a majority black community from Oakland, California ... so the struggle, I seen it. I still have some family in the struggle. All I'm saying is we want to educate those, the youth that's coming up. — Marcus Peters, Kansas City Chiefs cornerback
  • Sept. 11, 2016 I want to make it clear that there is no disrespect to the military or to police officers — I'm not about that. I love everyone. I would like to keep moving forward in the right direction with everybody: equal rights, equal opportunity. From my position, it doesn't seem that it's happening. That's why I took a stand. — Jelani Jenkins, Oakland Raiders linebacker
  • Sept. 11, 2016 If it's about the knee that people are upset about, every Sunday people of faith take a knee to give thanks to their Lord and savior, whatever faith or religion that they are. It's not about a knee, it's not about the [symbolism], it's about the message. They say it's not the time to do this, but when is the time? — Arian Foster, former Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans running back
  • Sept. 11. 2016 These guys are making a conversation of something that I think is a very important topic in this country, and I’m 100 percent supportive of them. This is a country, you’re allowed to really indicate what your preferences are and how your feeling and that’s what makes us so great, and I think it’s great, and I applaud them for what they’re doing. — Stephen Ross, Miami Dolphins owner
  • Sept. 11, 2016 There was a time when I didn’t stand up for the National Anthem. But as I grew as a Christian man, I felt like that wasn’t the right thing to do for me. There was something that I could do to make it better. So when I saw racial injustice that I perceived, I stood for the National Anthem but I bowed my head and I prayed that God would make us a country that really was the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave.’ — Tony Dungy, former Indianapolis Colts head coach
  • Sept. 11, 2016 So now, as I’m thinking about the national anthem, and I hear that line, ‘for the land of the free,’ he wasn’t talking about me. He wasn’t talking about Randy [Moss]. So when we talk about Colin Kaepernick and the stand that he’s taking, he’s saying, ‘Look, let there be justice for all of us, including me and Randy, including all of you on this set today. So I actually applaud him for having the gall to stand up when he knew what kind of ridicule he was going to get, when most people would not do it, when he knew the backlash he was going to get. — Charles Woodson, former player
  • Sept. 11, 2016 No matter how passionate you are, no matter how much of a burden you have for a social issue, you don’t let it get in the way of the team. And the big thing that hit me through all of this was this is a backup quarterback whose job is to be quiet and sit in the shadows and get the starter ready to play Week 1. Yet, he chose a time when he became the center of attention. And it has disrupted that organization. It has caused friction and torn the fabric of the team. — Trent Dilfer, former player
  • Sept. 11, 2016 I understand we’re going through things as a country right now, but there’s just ways to do it. Me personally, I think when you do things, you have to do it in a unit. That’s my opinion on it and we’re ready to play football. We’ll be standing today for the national anthem today as a team. — Adam Jones, Cincinnati Bengals cornerback
  • Sept. 11, 2016 There’s no question [Marcus Peters] respects whatever law enforcement, military, you don’t ever question that with this guy. He just wants what is right, like we all do. I think that’s the important thing. What the players are doing right now is important. Let’s just all get along and that would be a beautiful thing. — Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs head coach
  • Sept. 12, 2016 Guys have different beliefs, but for the most part, we don’t want to bring any individual spotlight on ourselves. Everyone believes in something, but at this point, as a team, we thought it would be better for us just to stand. — Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals cornerback

We strongly, strongly support the flag in every way we support — and it's almost ridiculous to be saying it — the people who for generations and generations have given it all up so that we can get out here and show off in front of millions of people on television. ... The forum of the NFL and the forum on television is a very significant thing. I'm for it being used in every way we can to support the great, great contributors in our society, and that's people that have supported America, the flag, and there's no reason not to go all out right there. And for anybody to use parts of that visibility to do otherwise is really disappointing.
— Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys owner, Sept. 13, 2016

  • Sept. 15, 2016 I always choose to stand and reflect, at a moment like that, on the blessings that I’ve had. That’s how I choose to express how I feel toward the people that have sacrificed for us. I think we live in a wonderful country. It’s certainly not perfect. I don’t think any country is perfect. It’s our responsibility to do the best we can do to change the things we don’t like. I think that’s part of social responsibility, and everybody is going to do that in their own way. — Tom Brady, New England Patriots quarterback
  • Sept. 16, 2016 There's just a lot of things systematically that have been set up in this country since its inception that really … put minorities, especially African Americans, at a disadvantage. ... So we want to continue to keep that conversation going, push it to as many people as we can, obviously while also doing our part in bringing forth change. — Malcolm Jenkins, Philadelphia Eagles safety
  • Sept. 17, 2016 It's something that players have the right to do. ... As long as they do it the right way and it doesn't become a distraction for the rest of the team. — Doug Pederson, Philadelphia Eagles head coach

With what's going on, I'd rather see him take a knee, than stand up, put his hands up and get murdered, so, my take on it is, shit's gotta start somewhere, and if that was the starting point, I just hope people open up their eyes and see there's really a problem going on and something needs to be done for it to stop and if you're really not racist, then you won't see what he's doing as a threat to America, but just addressing a problem we have.
— Marshawn Lynch, Oakland Raiders running back, Sept. 20, 2016

  • Sept. 20, 2016 I support @Kaepernick7 for bringing awareness for injustice !!!! As Americans we all have rights! Im hoping we all come together#solution … All lives matter. So much going on in this world today.Can we all just get along! Colin,I respect your stance but don't disrespect the Flag. — Jerry Rice, Pro Football Hall of Famer
  • Sept. 21, 2016 It’s time to find solutions. People aren’t crying wolf — this is our reality. People feel their lives are worth less than those who aren’t of color. — Michael Thomas, Miami Dolphins safety
  • Sept. 21, 2016 The reason these guys are kneeling, the reason we’re locking arms, is to bring people together to make people aware that this is not right. It’s not right for people to get killed in the street. When a guy takes a knee, you can ignore it, you can say he’s not being patriotic, he’s not honoring the flag. I’m doing none of those things. I’m saying it straight up: this is wrong, and we need to do something. — Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks cornerback
  • Oct. 2, 2016 I felt the need to do it. I felt like I’ve been silent long enough. It’s a bigger problem out there in the communities, in our society, things like the type of situations [where] people losing their lives, families like that. Little kids going home and not having their parents no more because of crazy things going on; so as far as the response, whatever the response is, that’s what it is, but I felt that it was time for me to make a stance and speak up on it. — DeSean Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver (formerly of the Washington Redskins)

Going forward, I will be standing for the National Anthem—not because everything is perfect, or because I'm changing my stance on things. But because of my hope for what we can become. Just because I am standing doesn't mean the work will end. There’s much work to be done.
— Brandon Marshall, Denver Broncos linebacker, Nov. 6, 2016

  • Nov. 11, 2016 I do think the right thing is for all the players and coaches on the sideline to stand during the national anthem and pay the respect that our flag and the people who have given their life for it deserve. At the same time, I understand we have players who are concerned about racial relations in this country, which is a very important subject. I just don’t believe that the national anthem is really the right place to voice your displeasure with that. — Clark Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs chairman
  • Nov. 13, 2016 The men and women who serve this country, I'm forever indebted to them. But the things that's been going on in America lately, I'm not going to stand for that. — Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver
  • Nov. 20, 2016 If I had to do it over again, I would have done it differently, but I would still use my platform to help. — Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver
  • July 30, 2017 The NFL was known for its patriotism and for character. It's now the brand today, it's turned to where they put up with anti-Americanism and thuggery. — Burgess Owens, former player
  • July 30, 2017 Nonviolent protesting is something that we have all embraced. I don’t like the way he did it. Personally, I kind of liked it a lot when he went from sitting to kneeling [as his protest]. I don’t know, I’m Catholic, we spend a lot of time kneeling. — Steve Bisciotti, Baltimore Ravens owner
  • Aug. 1, 2017 The football field is our sanctuary. If you do nothing else, young man, get back on the football field and let your play speak for itself. And what you do off the field, don't let too many people know, because they gonna judge you anyway, no matter what you do, no matter if it's good or bad. — Ray Lewis, former Baltimore Ravens player
  • Aug. 1, 2017 I think the best way I can say this is: I don't understand what it's like to be in that situation. What it is to be pulled over, or profiled, or any number of issues that have happened, that Colin was referencing — or any of my teammates have talked to me about. ... But I know it's a real thing my black teammates have to deal with. — Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers quarterback

I love hot dogs, like any other American. I love football like any other American. But I don't love segregation. I don't love riots. I don't love oppression. I don't love gender slander. And I just want to see people have equality that they deserve.
— Michael Bennett, Seattle Seahawks defensive end, Aug. 13, 2017

  • Aug. 14, 2017 It’s more of marketing, it’s not really in their heart that they really want to do that. But once again, I think it's a selfish reason I really do. ... I think, go out and play football and do what you’re supposed to do and not worry about the worldly things that’s going on. — Jermichael Finley, former player
  • Aug. 14, 2017 I’ve got a lot of respect for what the national anthem represents for our country but everybody has their own reasons or certain beliefs. I think you want to be respectful and mindful of that but I think we want to allow guys to express themselves in whatever way they see fit. — Sean McVay, Los Angeles Rams head coach
  • Aug. 14, 2017 I think everybody has a right to [protest], and I get it, but the national anthem means a lot to myself personally, the organization and our football team. I hope — and again I can't speak, I haven't really talked to our team about it — I would hope that we don't have those issues. — Hue Jackson, Cleveland Browns head coach
  • Aug. 15, 2017 The national anthem is a special moment to me. It’s a point of pride. That is a really important moment. But we also have to understand the other side, that people do have rights and we have to respect those. — Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner
  • Aug. 15, 2017 I support [brother Michael Bennett], I support his movement, I support Colin Kaepernick, I support all the guys ... all the people that came before us to pave the way for what we're trying to do in the black community. — Martellus Bennett, Green Bay Packers tight end
  • Aug. 15, 2017 The overwhelming and most profound message is that we claim to have equality and liberty for all people. And some people feel that's not the case. So maybe we should listen to them. Maybe we should listen to what their thoughts are and see if we can't be better. — Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver
  • Aug. 15, 2017 I was brought up to respect the flag, respect the veterans. They’re giving up their life for this flag. I think the whole country needs a dose of, hey, let’s be proud of our country. Let’s stand behind our president. Let’s do things. Do we have other issues? Absolutely we do. Now’s not the time to do that. — Rob Ryan, former NFL assistant coach
  • Aug. 15, 2017 There's no question in my mind the National Anthem is sacred, the flag is sacred and our team has demonstrated that. — Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys head coach
  • Aug. 15, 2017 We want to have a collection of individuals that come together as a team to play football. We don't need everybody in the organization to think the same way I think, or have the same feelings that I have about different topics. — Jack del Rio, Oakland Raiders head coach
  • Aug. 17, 2017 I feel like it's my duty as an athlete with my platform to do anything I can to help people in need against police brutality in the black and brown communities. — Cameron Jefferson, Buffalo BIlls offensive lineman
  • Aug. 17. 2017 I feel like America is in a bad place right now, with all the racial tension. We have to be better than our ancestors were. It's 2017, and we're still struggling with issues we had in the 1930s. — Wesley Woodyard, Tennessee Titans linebacker
  • Aug. 17, 2017 It's going to affect your job, your endorsements and your money. Someone like me, going into my fourth year, I'm trying to get paid, too. A lot of teams will look down at that and say, 'He's a Colin Kaepernick.' ... We're going to keep standing up for what's right on our side. And if they can't see the injustice, then that's where the divide is going to be. — DaQuan Jones, Tennessee Titans defensive end

Did protesting really change much last year? I don't really think so. We gotta find a better way. Protesting on a Sunday doesn't do itself justice because we did that last year and there was only more uproar, without much change.
— Jurrell Casey, Tennessee Titans defensive lineman, Aug. 17, 2017

  • Aug. 17, 2017 I think this game brings people together. So I think personally when I see [anthem protests], I think that's divisive. And I understand guys see things and they're not happy. They have that right. And I think we'll always respect people's rights. That doesn't mean I believe that. I believe this game should be celebrated for what it is. I think [it's] a tremendous unifier for our country and for the way things should be. — John Lynch, San Francisco 49ers general manager
  • Aug. 17, 2017 This is a free country, in my opinion, and free people can do what they like. — Ted Thompson, Green Bay Packers general manager
  • Aug. 17, 2017 This is what I tell our players, you live in a society, all right. You can’t avoid everything that’s happening in the world. Be informed. If you make a decision be willing to stand by it. Speak for yourself, you don’t speak for the entire football team. — Lovie Smith, former Chicago Bears head coach
  • Aug. 17, 2017 I know there are guys who want to take a knee or stand up as well, but a lot of people come to this league from nothing. Job security is everything. It's not a secret that guys who protest on teams might be gone. — Rishard Matthews, Tennessee Titans wide receiver
  • Aug. 17, 2017 Brandon [Marshall] made a point last year, but he carried it forward. He just didn't make a stand on the field before the games, he actually went out in the community and did something and talked to different people. He went and talked to law enforcement and got involved in the community. I was proud of Brandon in not only did he show his support for what it was last year, but also he went out and did something in the community. — John Elway, Denver Broncos general manager and former Broncos quarterback
  • Aug. 17, 2017 It’s their individual right. We don’t have a rulebook on what’s right to protest and not protest. You don’t know those things until the course of time. Whether it’s sitting for the anthem, whether it’s raising your fist, whether it’s speaking out, whether it’s a walk to Washington, who’s to say whose protest is good or bad, you know? — Todd Bowles, New York Jets head coach
  • Aug. 17, 2017 I think the national anthem in my thought is for the fallen soldiers, so I just want to represent them the right way. I really can’t speak on them, they have a certain cause and purpose on why they’re doing that, but in this locker room, you won’t see that happening. — Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans tight end
  • Aug. 18. 2017 I have no reaction. You know, a lot of people have personal opinions, and it's just that — it's personal opinions. If I don't think mine adds any value to the discussion, I will keep it to myself and not add it to the fray. — Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach
  • Aug. 18, 2017 There are some people who say they don’t want politics in sports. I don’t remember a time when fighting white supremacy was a political issue, but evidently it is for a couple people in this country, and that’s unfortunate. — Chris Long, Philadelphia Eagles defensive end
  • Aug. 19, 2017 Whether it's good or bad in some eyes, I feel like I'm just supporting my teammate, supporting why he's doing it and his reasons, and trying to encourage others. ... I'm not against what the flag means and veterans. My dad was in the Army. So I'm not putting any disrespect to them. I'm just trying to understand the issues, trying to educate myself more in that regard and showing support. — Justin Britt, Seattle Seahawks center
  • Aug. 20, 2017 I think the key word here is respect. We respect [tackle Cam Jefferson’s] opinion. We respect and acknowledge what’s going on. When a player or anyone in this case takes an initiative to make a stand for something, if it’s ethical, I want them to know that I’m going to support them and we’re going to support them. — Sean McDermott, Buffalo BIlls head coach
  • Aug. 21, 2017 There’s a lot of racial and social injustices in the world that are going on right now. We just decided to take a knee and pray for the people who have been affected and just pray for the world in general. — Jabrill Peppers, Cleveland Browns safety

We wanted to draw attention to the fact that there’s things in this country that still need to change, and I myself will be raising children that don’t look like me [wife is African American], and I want to do my part as well, to do everything I can to raise them in a better environment than we have right now.
— Seth DeValve, Cleveland Browns tight end, Aug. 21, 2017

  • Aug. 22, 2017 We respect our players; we respect the flag. Those guys came to me and talked to me about it before they ever made a decision to do it. — Hue Jackson, Cleveland Browns head coach
  • Aug. 22, 2017 My personal view is, I'll be standing on the 50-yard line with my hand over my heart. That's what I believe in. We've got plenty of guys who believe in that but we're not all the same. We're not all the same. We don't all come from the same place. We don't all have the same background. We have to respect every man's opinion. — Dirk Koetter, Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach
  • Aug. 23, 2017 I respect the fact that they have the freedom to protest. Right now, I’m focused on football. It hasn’t been a problem for our football team. Moving forward, if it comes up, we’ll discuss it. But right now, it hasn’t come up. — Vance Joseph, Denver Broncos head coach and former player
  • Aug. 24, 2017 I’m not criticizing nobody. They’re free to do whatever they want. Hell no I’m not doing none of that. Their beliefs are their beliefs, and I’m not saying that it’s wrong — because they’re feeling a certain way. — Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver
  • Aug. 24, 2017 These are thoughtful guys. ... They don't want something bad, they want something better for America. So I don't look at them in any sort of negative way. I appreciate the teams that try to do everything together, link arms, or do whatever the case may be. But this is difficult on everybody, because the minute you open your mouth about this thing [anthem protests], something you said can be taken the wrong way. All of a sudden you can be in the national news. And I firmly believe that people watch football games because they're ready for a break from all the politics. Now all the politics are inside the NFL game. — Cris Collinsworth, former player and current analyst
  • Aug. 25, 2017 I don’t desecrate my flag and my national anthem. I’m not going to do anything against the flag and national anthem. I’m going to work within those situations. But this is my country, and I’ll work out the problems, but I’ll do it in an intelligent manner. — Jim Brown, former Cleveland Browns player and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame

I feel I needed to regain control of that narrative and not let people say that what we’re doing is un-American, because it’s not. It’s completely American. We’re doing it because we want equality for everybody. We want our country to be a better place. So that’s why I decided to resume the protest.
— Eric Reid, San Francisco 49ers safety, Aug. 27, 2017

  • Sept. 10, 2017 We talked about protests to do things and protests to do that and what we kind of did before the game of everybody coming together is the point we're trying to make is equality for everyone. Everyone being it together, pointing to the issues and saying, 'if we work together, we can fix those things.' — Jason McCourty, Cleveland Browns cornerback
  • Sept. 11, 2017 Let them be malcontents. Let them do their thing. They'll move on, nobody will think about it, nobody will remember who they were, the fact they didn't stand for the national anthem. — Mike Ditka, former Chicago Bears head coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer
  • Sept. 12, 2017 (tweets) Why aren't more players speaking up or protesting? Do you not believe there's a problem? Do you not believe you can create change? ... Are you worried about sponsors or your contract? Do you not care? ... How can we expect the league to care about something we're not showing we care about? — Kenny Stills, Miami Dolphins wide receiver

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, out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’
— President Trump, at a campaign rally in Huntsville, Ala., Sept. 22, 2017

  • Sept. 22, 2017 (tweet) Does anyone tell trump to stick to politics, like they tell us to stick to sports? Smh. — Eric Ebron, Lions tight end
  • Sept. 22, 2017 (tweet) I'm a full supporter of the Flag & This country! Trust Me! But this can't be real! — Rishard Matthews, Tennessee Titans wide receiver
  • Sept. 22, 2017 (tweet) Cloth has more value than people. apparently. — Arian Foster, former player
  • Sept. 22, 2017 (tweet) It's a shame and disgrace when you have the President of the US calling citizens of the country sons of a bitches. — Bishop Sankey, Vikings running back
  • Sept. 22, 2017 (tweet) Continue to use your voices and your platforms for racial equality and to stop injustices in our communities. This is bigger than us!!! — Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints wide receiver.
  • Sept. 22, 2017 (tweet) When will people learn that fear won’t make someone sit down. It quite possibly will make more stand up for what they believe in. — Chris Conley, Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver
  • Sept. 23, 2017 The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture. 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. — Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner
  • Sept. 23, 2017 [The NFL Players Association] will never back down when it comes to protecting the constitutional rights of our players as citizens as well as their safety as men who compete in a game that exposes them to great risks. — DeMaurice Smith, NFLPA executive director
  • Sept. 23, 2017 (tweet) The behavior of the President is unacceptable and needs to be addressed. If you do not Condemn this divisive Rhetoric you are Condoning it!! — Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks cornerback
  • Sept. 23, 2017 The constitution guarantees our right to individual opinions. The flag, the national anthem represent and celebrate that freedom. We do not live in a country run by a totalitarian government where peacefully sharing opinions WILL get one fired or thrown in jail. We need to celebrate and protect that freedom. If our president doesn't understand this most important truth, it's even more important that we do. — Connor Barwin, Los Angeles Rams linebacker

Comments like we heard last night from the president are inappropriate, offensive and divisive. We are proud of our players, the vast majority of whom use their NFL platform to make a positive difference in our society.
— John Mara and Steve Tisch, New York Giants co-owners, Sept. 23, 2017

  • Sept. 23, 2017 (tweet) I’m ok with being fired for what I believe in. The idea of [President Trump] thinking that suggesting firing me from football confirms that he thinks that it’s all I can do as a Black man. — Martellus Bennett, Green Bay Packers tight end
  • Sept. 23, 2017 Our country needs unifying leadership right now, not more divisiveness. We need to seek to understand each other and have civil discourse instead of condemnation and sound bites. I know our players who kneeled for the anthem and these are smart young men of character who want to make our world a better place for everyone. They wanted to start a conversation and are making a difference in our community, including working with law enforcement to bring people together. — Stephen Ross, Miami Dolphins owner
  • Sept. 23, 2017 The callous and offensive comments made by the president are contradictory to what this great country stands for. Our players have exercised their rights as United States citizens in order to spark conversation and action to address social injustice. We will continue to support them in their peaceful pursuit of positive change in our country and around the world. — Jed York, San Francisco 49ers owner
  • Sept. 23, 2017 I do believe this will be a unifying moment for the sports world. And with as much influence as athletes have on the younger generation, this can be an opportunity for us to change the narrative of society and point to the president as a poor example of what you can become if you remain close minded, ignorant and uneducated. — Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver
  • Sept. 23, 2017 (tweets) It's amazing that the most divisive person in this entire country is the President of the United States...he says whatever he wants. Patriotism goes beyond a flag and an anthem — Torrey Smith, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver
  • Sept. 23, 2017 The NFL has historically been a strong catalyst for positive change and I’m proud of the way our players, coaches and staff use that platform to give back to our community and strive to be good citizens making a positive impact on this and future generations. — Arthur Blank, Atlanta Falcons owner
  • Sept. 23, 2017 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. — Dean Spanos, Los Angeles Chargers owner
  • Sept. 23, 2017 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. — Amy Adams Strunk, Tennessee Titans owner
  • Sept. 23, 2017 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. — Mark Murphy, Green Bay Packers chairman
  • Sept. 23, 2017 The best of us lend our compassion and determination to the aid of others. Every day I see the genuine dedication and hard work of our players. And I support them as they take their courage, character and commitment into our communities to make them better or to call attention to injustice. Having spoken with our players, I can attest to the great respect they have for the national anthem and all it represents. We at the Philadelphia Eagles firmly believe that in this difficult time of division and conflict, it is more important than ever for football to be a great unifier. — Jeffrey Lurie, Philadelphia Eagles chairman
  • Sept. 23, 2017 Our players have shown a tremendous commitment to raising awareness for important societal issues by using their platform in a positive way. ... As an organization, we could not be more proud, appreciative and grateful for our players. We’ll continue to support them and work together to advocate for values of respect, diversity and inclusion. — Joe Ellis, Denver Broncos president
  • Sept. 23, 2017 Our players have the freedom to express themselves in a respectful and thoughtful manner and we all agreed that our sole message is to provide and to promote an environment that is focused on love and equality. — Terry and Kim Pegula, Buffalo Bills owners
  • Sept. 23, 2017 We fully support our players’ use of their freedom of speech and peaceful action to highlight the existing racial and other divides in our country. Our players completely respect the military and veterans of our country; however, they believe these issues need to come to the forefront. — Peter McLoughlin, Seattle Seahawks president
  • Sept. 23, 2017 I am troubled by the President’s recent comments about our league and our players. Sports in America have the unique ability to bring people from all walks of life and from different points of view together to work toward or root for a common goal, and the Indianapolis Colts are proud to be a part of that tradition in our home city and state. — Jim Irsay, Indianapolis Colts owner

There is no greater unifier in this country than sports and, unfortunately, nothing more divisive than politics. I think our political leaders could learn a lot from the lessons of teamwork and the importance of working together toward a common goal. Our players are intelligent, thoughtful and care deeply about our community and I support their right to peacefully affect social change and raise awareness in a manner that they feel is most impactful.
— Robert Kraft, New England Patriots owner, Sept. 24, 2017

  • Sept. 24, 2017 We’re not going to play politics. We’re football players, we’re football coaches. We’re not participating in the anthem today. Not to be disrespectful to the anthem, but to remove ourselves from this circumstance. People shouldn’t have to choose. If a guy wants to go about his normal business and participate in the anthem, he shouldn’t have to be forced to choose sides. If a guy feels the need to do something, he shouldn’t be separated from his teammate who chooses not to. So we’re not participating today. — Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach
  • Sept. 24, 2017 When it comes to speech, they’re entitled to speak, we’re entitled to listen, we’re entitled to disagree or agree, for that matter. But we’re not entitled to shut anybody’s speech down. Sometimes you don’t like what you hear; well, that’s true of life in lots of contexts. But you can’t shut people down and you can’t be disgraceful when you’re doing it. — Paul Tagliabue, former NFL commissioner
  • Sept. 24, 2017 I'm not sure if our president understands those rights, that every American has the right to speak out and also to protest — Terry Bradshaw, analyst and current player
  • Sept. 24, 2017 What makes this the greatest country in the world are the liberties it was founded upon and the freedom to express oneself in a respectful and peaceful manner. Through important dialogue with our players and team, this divisive political situation has unified our franchise for the present and the future. — George H. McCaskey, Chicago Bears chairman
  • Sept. 24, 2017 It was a privilege to stand on the sidelines with the Jacksonville Jaguars today for the playing of the U.S. national anthem at Wembley Stadium. I met with our team captains prior to the game to express my support for them, all NFL players and the league following the divisive and contentious remarks made by President Trump, and was honored to be arm in arm with them, their teammates and our coaches during our anthem. Our team and the National Football League reflects our nation, with diversity coming in many forms — race, faith, our views and our goals. 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. — Shad Khan, Jacksonville Jaguars owner
  • Sept. 24, 2017 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 countries or opinions. — Martha Firestone Ford, Detroit Lions owner
  • Sept. 24, 2017 It's America and you are free to speak your mind. I just feel it's disrespectful to the ones who sacrificed their lives and it's maybe the wrong platform. But like I said to each their own it's AMERICA! The greatest country in the world and you reside here, then why do you stay. A lot worse places in the world to call home. Proud to be an American. — Derek Wolfe, Denver Broncos defensive end
  • Sept. 24, 2017 Our players, just like so many others across our league, have been honest and thoughtful with their attempt to bring awareness to the issues of inequality and social injustice. We were incredibly moved by the meaningful and powerful dialogue they initiated within our organization when they spoke of their intent to unify and not be disrespectful while using familiar and important terms like one nation, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. ... We must not let misguided, uninformed and divisive comments from the President of anyone else deter us from our efforts to unify. Our stance in support of the liberties of peaceful, personal expression afforded to our players and all Americans will remain strong, and we will continue to encourage our players to respectfully use their earned platform to inspire positive change in our nation and throughout society. — Dee and Jimmy Haslam, Cleveland Browns owners
  • Sept. 24, 2017 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. — Mark Davis, Oakland Raiders owner
  • Sept. 24, 2017 As we have stated previously, the Buccaneers recognize every individual's constitutional right to freedom of speech, which is crucial to the American way of life that we cherish. We are equally committed to the principles of inclusivity and respect for differing points of view that should be afforded to all Americans. — Joel Glazer, Tampa Bay Buccaneers co-chairman


Compiled by Bryan Flaherty. Design and development by Virginia Singarayar. Photo by Scott Cunningham / Getty Images

Originally published Sept. 20, 2017.


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