US President Donald Trump has once again hit out at several NFL players, after anthem protests were once again prominent during the first round of preseason fixtures on Thursday.
Writing on Twitter, Trump said that players “make a fortune doing what they love” and that players who choose the national anthem as a mechanism to protest should be suspended without pay.
Malcolm Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles, and one of the more prominent protesters in the NFL last season, raised his fist during the national anthem, joined by teammate De’Vante Bausby. Jenkins’ protest was notable, as he had ceased protesting last December.
"Everybody is waiting for what the league is going to do," Jenkins said, cited in an AFP report. "We won't let it stop what we stand for. I was very encouraged last year with the direction and that obviously took a different turn.
"I think it's important to utilize the platform as we can because for whatever reason, we have framed this demonstration in a negative light, and often players have to defend why we feel the need to fight for everyday Americans, and in actuality we're doing the right thing."
Various other preseason games across the United States also had some form of protestation. Miami Dolphins receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson, along with Defensive End Robert Quinn, all protested during the anthem.
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"As a black man in this world, I've got an obligation to raise awareness," Quinn said. "If no one wants to live in unity, that's why we're in the situation we're in."
Protests were also visible before the Seattle Seahawks’ game against the Indianapolis Colts, while all of the players on the New England Patriots team appeared to stand for the anthem with their heads bowed solemnly. Much as he did throughout the wave of protests last season, President Donald Trump made it clear he found them to be unacceptable.
“The NFL players are at it again - taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the National Anthem. Numerous players, from different teams, wanted to show their “outrage” at something that most of them are unable to define,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
“They make a fortune doing what they love. Be happy, be cool! A football game, that fans are paying soooo much money to watch and enjoy, is no place to protest. Most of that money goes to the players anyway. Find another way to protest. Stand proudly for your National Anthem or be Suspended Without Pay!”
Meanwhile, Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who is credited with popularizing these protests in 2016, noted the impact of this latest wave.
Further NFL preseason games will take place on Friday evening in the United States. There is no indication yet as to which, if any, teams will protest during the performance of the Star-Spangled Banner.