Members of the San Francisco 49ers kneeling during the National Anthem Sunday before their game against the Arizona Cardinals. (Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports)
Dozens of NFL players took a knee during the national anthem as others sat or raised their fists before the games of Week 4 Sunday, a day after President Trump tweeted that it that it was “very important” for players to stand.
Still, the number of kneeling players was down from last weekend, when more than 200 athletes took a knee after Trump lashed out at athletes who protest during the national anthem.
Among the players who kneeled Sunday: half of the San Francisco 49ers. The team released a video of the athletes with the caption: “Together.” Their opponents, the Arizona Cardinals, stood.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) October 1, 2017
The 49ers added in a statement: “For more than a year, members of our team have protested the oppression and social injustices still present in our society. While some may not have taken a knee or raised a fist, we have all shared the desire to influence positive change. Today, our team chose to publicly display our unity in a new way and, in turn, urge others do the same.”
Protesting during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” began last season when Colin Kaepernick, then a 49ers quarterback, took a knee, saying it was to protest social injustice.
— Josh Sánchez (@jnsanchez) October 1, 2017
Before the Sunday night game, several Seattle Seahawks sat on the bench, including defensive lineman Michael Bennett. Their opponents, the Indianapolis Colts, stood and linked arms.
Earlier, three Miami Dolphins players knelt before their NFL game in London: Julius Thomas, Michael Thomas and Kenny Stills.
The Dolphins played the New Orleans Saints, who won 20-0. Saints players stood locking arms, having knelt as a team shortly before the anthem, Reuters reported.
After the game, Saints coach Sean Payton praised his team for the show of solidarity.
— Jon Scott (@JonScottTV) October 1, 2017
“It’s a credit to our leadership on the team, and we just felt like they were going to meet and spend some time on it and come up with a plan and we were going to be really unified and I thought it went really well. I was proud of the leadership on the team,” he said.
Several players on the Buffalo Bills knelt, including star running back LeSean McCoy.
— clevelanddotcom (@clevelanddotcom) October 1, 2017
The Houston Texans’ Jurrell Casey, Wesley Woodyard, Brian Orakpo and DaQuan Jones raised a fist while Tennessee Titans wide receiver Rishard Matthews was not on the field for the anthem. He came out of the tunnel after it ended.
Nine Cleveland Browns players, including LB Christian Kirksey, raised their right arms with closed fists.
Los Angeles Rams outside linebacker Robert Quinn also raised his right fist before the Rams-Cowboys game. Punter Johnny Hekker had his arm around him.
The Rams played the Dallas Cowboys, who returned to their usual pregame configuration: all standing along their sideline, but without arms linked. Last week Dallas kneeled in unison before “The Star-Spangled Banner” then stood, arms linked, for the song.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, as promised, stood on the sideline during the national anthem after watching from the tunnel last week in Chicago. With the exception of center Ryan Jensen and guard Matt Skura, the Baltimore Ravens all took a knee on the field before the national anthem and received boos from many in the crowd. The team then stood on the sideline after the music started.
Two members of the Detroit Lions—Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Steve Longa—knelt during the national anthem, the New York Times reported.
Their opponents, the Minnesota Vikings — save for Jerick McKinnon — locked arms and stood for the anthem, the report said. McKinnon reportedly stood behind the sideline.
The New England Patriots stood with their right hands over their hearts, and their left hands on their teammate’s shoulders, the Times reported. During the game, Carolina Panthers quarterback raised a fist after a touchdown, according to ESPN.
Raiders RB Marshawn Lynch wearing an "Everybody vs Trump" T-shirt: pic.twitter.com/7aiCUbjLUD
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 1, 2017
“I did it to show black pride, because I am an African American,” Newton was quoted as saying by the outlet. “I wanted people to see the joy that I go out there and play with.”
New York Giants player Olivier Vernon kneeled for the anthem, and his standing teammates Landon Collins and Damon Harrison raised their fists, the New York Daily News reported.
Marshawn Lynch was the only player who didn’t stand for the national anthem prior to the Denver Broncos’ game against the Oakland Raiders. Last week, 32 Broncos knelt and almost all of the Raiders sat on their bench during the anthem.
The Jacksonville Jaguars took a knee before the anthem, the New York Times reported.
Very important that NFL players STAND tomorrow, and always, for the playing of our National Anthem. Respect our Flag and our Country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2017
Ahead of the games on Saturday, Trump doubled down on his call for NFL players to stand during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” in a tweet.
“Very important that NFL players STAND tomorrow, and always, for the playing of our National Anthem. Respect our Flag and our Country!” Trump wrote.
During a fiery speech at a political rally in Alabama on Sept. 22, Trump called for NFL owners to fire players who engaged in such a protest. In the days that followed, the president issued a series of tweets reiterating his views and calling for a boycott of games by fans.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.