Trump Launches 'Stand for the National Anthem' Petition

Defensive end Olivier Vernon is the only Giants player to kneel during the national anthem

Almost 150 NFL players defiantly took a knee during the national anthem at their games Sunday while hundreds of other grid stars locked arms with their coaches - and even some team owners - in protest of President Trump, who had ripped the league over the weekend [9/24].

Trump, however, has consistently called for any players who join the protests - which were started last season by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick - to be fired by their teams. Total lack of respect to our great country!

The NFL held its annual league meetings on October 17-18 in NY.

The Trump campaign released a petition encouraging everyone to stand for the national anthem. "It's also important for us to honor our flag and our country, and we think our fans expect us to do that".

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who first popularized the gesture a year ago, said he settled on kneeling as a form of protest because it is widely seen as a gesture of respect. The protests had mostly fizzled out until last month, when Trump reignited the issue by decrying any player who kneeled during the anthem as a "son of a bitch" who should be fired.

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Players across the league doubled down by kneeling, locking arms, and sometimes sitting for the anthem after the president called on owners to fire players who did so. Trump has maintained his offensive against the protesting athletes, on Monday calling for the National Football League to suspend players who continued to kneel.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made clear he will take a more patient approach than the one urged by the president: Rather than using discipline, the league will continue to nurture players' efforts to fight racial disparities in the criminal justice system, believing this would make the urge to protest fade. "We did not ask for that", Goodell said.

"We want our players to be standing and we will continue to encourage them to get up", he said, adding that the members of the meeting had not discussed any possible sanctions against players knelt.

Trump's comments, however, only appeared to fuel the anthem protest movement as more players than ever before protested the national anthem in some manner the following Sunday. "What we're trying to do is deal with the underlying issue and understand what it is they're protesting".

Three Lions players kneel during the national anthem.

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