A group of about 16 New England Patriots players knelt during the national anthem on Sunday, drawing a chorus of boos from the crowd.
The Patriots were playing against the Houston Texans in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
Tom Brady was notably standing during the anthem, interlocking arms with his teammates.
Some fans reported that there were boos before and after the national anthem—a sign that they were directing their ire at the players.
Lots of defensive players kneeling during the anthem pic.twitter.com/PZKruYE8ZR
— Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) September 24, 2017
Sixteen Patriots took a knee during the national anthem on Sunday. Several more, including Tom Brady, linked arms. https://t.co/AQAUL97U83
— Brad Almquist (@bquist13) September 24, 2017
Meanwhile, almost the entire Pittsburgh Steelers team stayed in the locker room during the national anthem before their 1 p.m. ET kickoff against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.
“We’re not going to play politics,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said, as reported by ESPN. “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 the circumstance.”
— Chase Williams WPXI (@chasepwilliams) September 24, 2017
“People shouldn’t have to choose. If a guy wants to go about his normal business and participate in the anthem, he shouldn’t 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.”
One player, Alejandro Villanueva, a veteran, stood for the national anthem outside the locker room tunnel.
It comes after President Donald Trump slammed the NFL over the anthem protests, which were started last season by ex-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who said he did it as a protest against oppression toward people of color.
“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!” Trump tweeted Sunday morning. He added that “NFL attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN.”
“If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!” he also tweeted later on Saturday.