Before last weekend, the number of NFL players protesting during “The Star-Spangled Banner” was small, sometimes just one. Most were African American. The first was former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began taking a knee during the anthem last season to protest recent police shootings.

But then President Trump railed against the protesters, and by the time the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars kicked off in London on Sunday, players and coaches of every ethnic background — and even some owners — were galvanizing to make very visible statements. Here is what they did.

Three teams stayed off the field

Pittsburgh Steelers
Seattle Seahawks
Tennessee Titans

Three teams didn’t come onto the field for the national anthem. Two of them, the Seahawks and Titans, were playing in the same game, making for surreally empty sidelines in Nashville as Meghan Linsey sang. After “... and the home of the brave,” Linsey took a knee herself.

[From Kaepernick sitting to Trump’s fiery comments: NFL’s anthem protests have spurred discussion]

Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin, who stood on the sideline as his team waited in the tunnel before its game in Chicago, explained that the players stayed inside as a show of team unity.

“We are not going to be divided by anything said by anyone,” Tomlin said before the game. “If a guy feels the need to do something, he shouldn't be separated from his teammate who chooses not to.”

The only Steelers player visible during the anthem was former Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva, who stood at the tunnel entrance with his hand over his heart. On Monday, Villanueva apologized and said he felt “embarrassed” for showing up the other Pittsburgh players.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Alejandro Villanueva stood at the mouth of the tunnel while his teammates stayed behind in the tunnel. (Photo by Joe Robbins / Getty Images)

Seattle Seahawks

The sidelines in Nashville were mostly empty during the anthem. (Photo by Frederick Breedon / Getty Images)

Tennessee Titans

After the anthem, the Titans, above, and Seahawks entered the field, arm-in-arm. (Photo by James Kenney / AP Photo)

Nine teams stood, together

Arizona Cardinals
Carolina Panthers
Chicago Bears
Cincinnati Bengals
Dallas Cowboys
Houston Texans
Minnesota Vikings
New York Jets
Philadelphia Eagles

By far, the most common position during the anthem was upright, but many players said that their literal stance was not a statement for or against the protesters but one of solidarity. Entire teams linked arms in defiance of what they said was an effort to divide them.

Every Chicago Bear, Houston Texan, New York Jet, Cincinnati Bengal, Minnesota Viking, Philadelphia Eagle and Carolina Panther stood, many with elbows locked together with their teammates. (Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers stayed off the field.)

On Monday night in Arizona, the Cowboys and Cardinals all stood, arms linked, surrounding a massive American flag that was nearly as big as the field. Before the anthem, the Cowboys players, coaches and owner Jerry Jones locked arms and took a knee, as fans booed. But they stood again before Jordin Sparks began to sing.

As Eagles defensive end Chris Long framed the sentiment, “We live in a wonderful country, and that’s what makes that flag special, the fact that you are able to protest it.”

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals stood by a huge American flag. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart / Getty Images)

Carolina Panthers

All Panthers who were on the field stood. (Photo by Streeter Lecka / Getty Images)

Chicago Bears

Some Bears held their hands over their hearts. (Photo by Kiichiro Sato / AP Photo)

Cincinnati Bengals

Bengals stood shoulder-to-shoulder. (Photo by Morry Gash / AP Photo)

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys took a knee before the National Anthem but stood during it. (Photo by Matt Kartozian / USA TODAY Sports)

Houston Texans

All Texans stood and linked arms. (Photo by Greg M. Cooper / USA TODAY Sports)

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings’ sideline stood through the anthem. (Photo by Jim Mone / AP Photo)

New York Jets

All Jets stood, including acting owner Christopher Johnson. (Photo by Al Bello / Getty Images)

Philadelphia Eagles

Some Eagles raised a fist. (Photo by Tim Donnelly / AP Photo)

On 11 teams, a handful of players knelt

Atlanta Falcons
Buffalo Bills
Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers
Indianapolis Colts
Jacksonville Jaguars
Miami Dolphins
New York Giants
Los Angeles Chargers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Washington Redskins

Sprinkled among the lines of players standing arm-in-arm on some sidelines, a few sat on the bench or knelt next to teammates, as Kaepernick and others had done in previous games. These included half a dozen or so Colts, Chargers, Redskins, Dolphins, Jaguars and Lions.

The Buffalo Bills walked together toward midfield, then about 10 players took a knee during the anthem (and running back LeSean McCoy did a bit of stretching).

Sometimes, the message was literally spelled out. During pregame warmups, several Miami Dolphins wore T-shirts that read “#ImWithKap.” Bills running back Mike Tolbert’s shirt said “Everybody vs. Injustice.”

Atlanta Falcons

Falcons DTs Grady Jarrett (97) and Dontari Poe (92) knelt. (Photo by Leon Halip / Getty Images)

Buffalo Bills

About 10 Bills knelt on the field. (Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes / AP Photo)

Detroit Lions

About eight Lions knelt (and anthem singer Rico Lavelle). (Photo by Raj Mehta / USA TODAY Sports)

Green Bay Packers

Three Packers sat on the bench including TE Martellus Bennett. (Photo by Mike Roemer / AP Photo)

Indianapolis Colts

About 10 Colts took a knee. (Photo by Darron Cummings / AP Photo)

Jacksonville Jaguars

Owner Shahid Khan joined his players. (Photo by Paul Childs / Action Images via Reuters)

Miami Dolphins

Four Dolphins knelt as others locked arms. (Photo by Frank Franklin II / AP Photo)

New York Giants

Three Giants knelt while others stood in solidarity. (Photo by Michael Perez / AP Photo)

Los Angeles Chargers

Five Chargers sat down on the bench, and two later knelt. (Photo by Jae C. Hong / AP Photo)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Two Bucs knelt: WRs Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson. ( Photo by Hannah Foslien / Getty Images)

Washington Redskins

At least seven Redskins knelt among standing teammates. (Photo by John McDonnell / The Washington Post)

Three teams mostly sat or kneeled

Denver Broncos
Kansas City Chiefs
Oakland Raiders

Most players from the Raiders, Chiefs and Broncos chose to remain seated on the bench or kneel during the anthem, including the Raiders’ entire offensive and defensive lines. Raiders who stood, including quarterback Derek Carr and Coach Jack Del Rio, locked arms. A few Chiefs and Broncos players stood next to their teammates.

Denver Broncos

ESPN counted 32 Broncos kneeling. (Photo by Brett Carlsen / Getty Images)

Kansas City Chiefs

About 10 Chiefs stood on the sideline. (Photo by Chris Carlson / AP Photo)

Oakland Raiders

Both Raiders lines sat on the bench. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images)

Four teams had no clear consensus

Baltimore Ravens
Cleveland Browns
New Orleans Saints
New England Patriots

That’s not to say that the teams weren’t unified — but they expressed themselves in different ways as opposed to a united front.

As long snapper and Navy lieutenant Joe Cardona stood at attention, about 20 Patriots took a knee and locked arms, as others, including quarterback Tom Brady, locked arms while standing nearby. Brady, whom Trump has name-dropped as a friend in the past, called the president’s comments “divisive” in a Monday interview with a Boston radio station and said, “I just want to support my teammates. I am never one that says, ‘Oh, that’s wrong’, or ‘that’s right,’ but I do believe in what I believe in. I believe in bringing people together and respect and love and trust.”

About 10 Saints players sat on the bench during the anthem, others kneeled, and still others stood with their hands on the shoulders of those kneeling. At least 20 Browns took a knee. About a dozen Ravens took a knee as well, and among them was former linebacker Ray Lewis, who had been critical of Kaepernick in the past.

Baltimore Ravens

About a dozen Ravens took a knee. (Photo by Matt Dunham / AP Photo)

Cleveland Browns

At least 20 Browns knelt among their teammates. (Photo by Michael Conroy / AP Photo)

New Orleans Saints

Ten Saints players stayed on the bench during the anthem. (Photo by Bob Donnan / USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots

The Boston Globe said 16 Patriots knelt and locked arms. (Photo by Jim Rogash / Getty Images)

Eleven owners stood with players

On a typical game day, owners watch from above in their climate-controlled boxes. But the first national anthem Sunday began with Shahid Khan of the Jaguars standing on the field, arms linked with players, and the last one of the day ended with Daniel M. Snyder doing the same with his Redskins a few miles from the White House.

In between, owners of teams from Los Angeles, New York, Detroit, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Miami and Atlanta stood on the sidelines, shoulder-to-shoulder with players and coaches.

Monday evening, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Cardinals owner Michael Bidwell stood with their teams as well. Jones had gone a step further a few minutes earlier, taking a knee with his players and coaches before the anthem began.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones kneels before the anthem during Monday night’s game against the Arizona Cardinals. (Joe Camporeale / USA Today Sports)

It was an awkward stance for some who had donated large sums of money to Trump’s campaign and inauguration committee, including Khan and Snyder. One, acting Jets owner Christopher Johnson, is temporarily running the team because Trump appointed his brother Woody Johnson ambassador to the United Kingdom.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a friend of Trump’s, did not take the field but issued a statement saying he was “deeply disappointed” in Trump’s words.

“There is no greater unifier in this country than sports and, unfortunately, nothing more divisive than politics,” said Kraft. “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.”

Note: This story does not include the San Francisco 49ers or the Los Angeles Rams because the teams played the Thursday before President Trump made his remarks on Twitter.

Clarification: A previous version of this story stated that the Pittsburgh Steelers waited in the locker room during the national anthem. They were in the tunnel near the field.

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Source: Post research

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