The Minnesota Vikings joined numerous National Football League teams in presenting a unified response to President Donald Trump's anti-protest tweets on Sunday.
No Vikings players kneeled during the playing of the national anthem. Instead, every player and coach -- joined by general manager Rick Spielman and co-owners Mark and Zygi Wilf -- stood together on the sidelines and locked arms.
The organization also put out a statement supporting the right of its players to have opinions, and speak them publicly. This fact is clearly upsetting to Trump, who tweeted this on Saturday evening:
Roger Goodell of NFL just put out a statement trying to justify the total disrespect certain players show to our country.Tell them to stand!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
Many players have opted to kneel during the anthem since then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Collin Kaepernick started doing it last season. Kaepernick, who once led the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance, left the 49ers when the season concluded, and remains an unsigned free agent.
On the opposing Tampa Bay Buccaneers sideline, wide receivers Mike Evans and Desean Jackson both kneeled while the anthem played at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday. No Vikings players have participated in the kneeling protest movement, and on Saturday, the team seemed reticent to get involved at all: When asked about the president's tweet, they deferred to a statement from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
The statement the team issued just before its locked-arms moment is hardly a dynamic political message. But when the president's Twitter-shaming football players for their politics, speaking up for free speech feels necessary.
Statement from Zygi and Mark Wilf and the entire Wilf family. pic.twitter.com/1YeAaKyjaW— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) September 24, 2017
Trump, for his part, has apologized for his polarizing statement, and says he's learned a lesson about tweeting without considering the consequences.
Nah. Actually he posted this stuff early on Sunday...
If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
...NFL attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN. Boring games yes, but many stay away because they love our country. League should back U.S.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
...because he is an adult, and mature, and very presidential.
As far as the actual football goes, the Vikings took the opening kickoff and promptly scored, and lead the Bucs 7-3 midway through the first quarter.
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