LANDOVER, Md. — Seven San Francisco 49ers players knelt during the national anthem Sunday after more than 20 players did the same in each of the past two weeks.
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Safeties Eric Reid and Adrian Colbert, linebacker Dekoda Watson, wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, defensive lineman Arik Armstead, linebacker Eli Harold and cornerback K’Waun Williams all knelt during the national anthem, while the rest of the team stood and locked arms.
Last week, Vice President Mike Pence left the Niners-Colts game early after more than 20 San Francisco players knelt during the anthem, with teammates standing behind them.
Pence voiced his displeasure on social media after leaving that game, saying on Twitter that he would not dignify any event that disrespects soldiers, the flag or the anthem.
President Donald Trump soon followed up by saying he asked Pence to leave the stadium if any players knelt.
Seven San Francisco 49ers knelt during the national anthem Sunday after more than 20 players did the same in each of the past two weeks. AP Photo/Alex Brandon
After the loss to the Colts, Reid said he thought Pence’s actions were planned, calling it a “PR stunt.”
“He knew our team has had the most players protest,” Reid said. “He knew that we were probably going to do it again. This is what systemic oppression looks like. A man with power comes to the game, tweets a couple things out and leaves the game in an attempt to thwart our efforts. Based on the information I have, that’s the assumption I made.”
On Monday, reports surfaced that the NFL owners were considering adding a rule that would force players to stand for the national anthem, though commissioner Roger Goodell indicated that wasn’t the case later in the week.
The NFL and NFL Players Association released a joint statement on Wednesday, saying that representatives from the players’ union will be at the owner’s meetings in New York this week to discuss the controversy surrounding the national anthem and the protests taking place during it.
Goodell later told NFL Network that the plan is to have in-depth discussions with the players and owners so that they can understand the issues the players are trying to address and how to address those issues in communities all over the country.
Trump followed by telling Fox News that he believed players would have stopped kneeling had former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick been suspended when he first knelt last year.
Reid, of course, was the first player to join Kaepernick in kneeling during the anthem, as a protest of racial inequality and police brutality, in 2016.
On Wednesday, Reid said he had discussions with team CEO Jed York in which he received assurances he would have the organization’s support.
“Well, I’ve talked to Jed, and he’s expressed very clearly that he wants to support us, that he’s not going to force us to do anything,” Reid said. “So, speaking for our team, that’s what he’s told me explicitly.”