GLENDALE, Ariz. (CBSNewYork/CBS News/AP) — Most players stood for the national anthem before early Games of Week 4, but half of the San Francisco 49ers took a knee before their game against the Arizona Cardinals in a show of unity.
The other half stood.
Because the 49ers played on Thursday last week, this was their first game since President Donald Trump criticized NFL players for not standing during the anthem.
Just before anthem, San Francisco’s players lined up in two rows, those in the front kneeling, those in the back standing. Most of the standing players had their hands on their hearts and the other on the shoulder of their teammate in front.
San Francisco was the epicenter for such displays during the anthem last year when former quarterback Colin Kaepernick started it in response to police brutality and racial injustice.
“For more than a year, members of our team have protested the oppression and social injustices still present in our society,” 49ers coaches players ownership and staff said in a statement. “While some may not have taken a knee or raised a fist, we have all shared the desire to influence positive change.”
Meanwhile, all players appeared to be standing for the national anthem before the Philadelphia Eagles faced the Los Angeles Chargers. Philadelphia defensive backs Rodney McLeod and Malcolm Jenkins raised their fists, but nobody else made a gesture. Dozens of Chargers linked arms, just as they did last week.
Several players on the Buffalo Bills knelt, including star running back LeSean McCoy.
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-Dallas Cowboys game. Punter Johnny Hekker had his arm around him.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, as promised, stood on the sideline during the national anthem after watching from the tunnel last week before playing the Bears 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.
The Cowboys returned to their usual pregame configuration: all standing along their sideline, but without arms linked. Last week Dallas knelt in unison before “The Star-Spangled Banner” then stood, arms linked for the song
Three Miami Dolphins players — Kenny Stills, Julius Thomas and Michael Thomas — took a knee during the anthem before they faced off against the New Orleans Saints in London’s Wembley Stadium. Most Saints players knelt before the anthem and stood while it played.
“As a way to show respect to all, our #Saints team will kneel in solidarity prior to the national anthem & stand together during the anthem,” Saints quarterback Drew Brees tweeted Thursday.
The New York Jets’ players all linked arms during the anthem before taking on the Jacksonville Jaguars, as they did last week. Acting owner Christopher Johnson was among them once again.
All of the Jaguars players took a knee a few moments before the anthem, as they announced they would, and then all stood during the singing of the anthem by Heather Hill.
On Saturday evening, Mr. Trump called again for an end to the protests that began as a movement to protest racial injustice in America.
“Very important that NFL players STAND tomorrow, and always, for the playing of our National Anthem,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “Respect our Flag and our Country!”
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)