Protests in wake of Trump's criticism run throughout NFL

What began as a single backup quarterback kneeling during the national anthem in a preseason game has mushroomed in the past 13 months to a nationwide movement, one that’s spread from the football field to the White House and forced America to deal with questions of free speech and patriotism.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protests, designed to bring attention to racial injustice and police brutality, drew both praise and criticism throughout the 2016 season. But President Donald Trump ratched the conversation to a higher level on Friday night when he called for the firing of kneeling players. The NFL responded to Trump’s statement by defending its players, and Trump in turn shot back at the NFL over the course of several tweets, including two early Sunday morning:



That set the tone for what promised to be a memorable, provocative Sunday. Here’s a roundup of the protest events and comments that took place across the NFL:

• At the day’s very first game, a London showdown between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens, more than two dozen players knelt, as did Raven team leader Ray Lewis. Jaguars owner Shad Khan, a Trump supporter, locked arms with his team in a show of unity, as did Ravens coach John Harbaugh.

• Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers posted the following photo on Instagram:


• Support for anthem protests wasn’t unanimous. Broncos DE Derek Wolfe took issue with the idea of protesting America:


Baltimore Ravens players, including former player Ray Lewis, second from right, kneel during the playing of the U.S. national anthem before an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium in London. (AP)

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.