NFL anthem protests tracker: Beast Mode calls out Donald Trump, boos greet players

After nearly 200 players knelt during the national anthem in Week 3, far fewer plays chose to kneel during the anthem this past Sunday. 

According to ESPN.com, there were only a total of 52 players who knelt to protest racial injustice during the national anthem this week after roughly 180 players knelt in Week 3. The Week 3 protests came just days after Donald Trump ripped the NFL during a rally in Alabama

Back on Sept. 22, Trump called on all NFL owners to "fire" all protesting players . The president also referred to the protesting players as "sons of bitches." 

The 52 players who decided to kneel in Week 4 came from just seven teams, with 30 of the players coming from the 49ers, nine players coming from the Seahawks, six players coming from the Bills, three players coming from the Dolphins, two players coming from the Lions and one player each coming from the Raiders and Giants.   

Here's a look at how each team has responded to Trump's remarks.

Arizona Cardinals

Every Cardinals player stood for the anthem on Sunday while a smattering of boos greeted the visiting 49ers, who were playing their first game since Donald Trump's comments on Sept. 22.

Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta's players all stood, with some linking arms, in a near-identical demonstation from what players and coaches had done in Week 3 when owner Arthur Blank stood with his team.

Said Blank: "We are at our very best when we are working together, building unity and including everyone's voice in a constructive dialogue. Creating division or demonizing viewpoints that are different than our own accomplishes nothing positive and undermines our collective ability to achieve the ideals of our democracy. "The NFL has historically been a strong catalyst for positive change and I'm proud of the way our players, coaches and staff use that platform to give back to our community and strive to be good citizens making a positive impact on this and future generations."

falcons-anthem.jpg
Falcons players and coaches lock arms in Week 4.  USATSI

Baltimore Ravens

In Baltimore, the Ravens decided they were going to stand for the national anthem this week, but that they were going to kneel beforehand and say a prayer. Even that decision wasn't popular as thousands of fans in Baltimore booed their own team

ravens-anthem.jpg
Ravens players stand for the anthem in Baltimore on Sunday. USATSI

A week earlier, the Ravens launched the Week 3 protests in full, in London, as dozens of players from both the Ravens and Jaguars protested by kneeling. Players who weren't on their knee showed their unity by locking arms with teammates. It appeared that every player from both teams was either kneeling or standing with locked arms. 

On the Ravens' sideline, nearly a dozen players kneeled, including Lardarius WebbAnthony LevineWillie Henry and Za'Darius Smith. Also kneeling? Ravens legend Ray Lewis, who was a critic of Colin Kaepernick and his silent protests during the anthem throughout last season.

"I dropped on two knees -- both knees -- so I can simply honor God in the midst of chaos," Lewis said on "Inside the NFL." 

Lewis' decision to kneel has spawned a Change.org petition calling for the removal of his statue outside M&T Bank Stadium. in response, increased security has been added around the statute by the Maryland Stadium Authority. 

Buffalo Bills

Six Bills players knelt during the playing of the anthem Sunday in Atlanta: Kaelin Clay, Cedric Thornton, Mike Tolbert, Shareece Wright, Taiwan Jones, and Jerel Worthy. 

bills-anthem.jpg
A group of Bills take a knee Sunday in Atlanta.  USATSI

Hall of Famer and Bills legend Jim Kelly spoke out against those who would take a knee during the anthem in the leaguewide Week 3 protests while still calling for unity.

"Even though I'm thankful the Bills won today, I'm really upset and sad about what's happening," Kelly said in an Instagram post. "And I imagine many of you are too. I love the game of football and all that it means to the players, fans and cities across THIS country...but with all that's going on it's hard.

"The only time I will ever take a knee is to pray and to thank the Good Lord for what he's given me. We all have our issues. We all need to try and appreciate and understand each other and help each other and that goes for our PRESIDENT TOO.

"I don't have all the answers. "But I do know that we need to UNITE not SEPARATE. I hope next week we can STAND , LOCK ARMS and become ONE FAMILY."

During the anthem Sunday in Buffalo, the Bills' entire sideline walked a few steps toward midfield with some players taking a knee amidst boos from the crowd. Running back LeSean McCoy knelt -- and stretched.

Kelly was asked about McCoy on Monday.

"I like LeSean McCoy, don't get me wrong, but I totally, 100 percent I disagree with what he did," Kelly explained. "You want to kneel? Fine. But when you go and do what he did yesterday, that sort of bummed me out. And I lost a lot of respect for him. ... You want to kneel? That's your prerogative. I would never do that. I will always stand, thank the good Lord for everything I got. But when you disrespect the way he did and just go by his everyday duty in the national anthem being sung? Uh-uh. I won't go for that."

Carolina Panthers

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton raised his fist after scoring a touchdown on Sunday in Foxborough after a week of strife in the Panthers' organization over the anthem protests. Every Panthers player stood in Week 4, while in Week 3, only veteran defensive end Julius Peppers protested by remaining in the locker room during the anthem.

"I want to get one thing clear: This wasn't about disrespecting the military, disrespecting the police, first responders -- none of that," Peppers said, via the team's official website. "It was about me making a decision as a man on my two feet. I didn't want to ask anybody else to do anything with me. I thought it was appropriate to stay in. We know what went on this week; the comments that were made by the President. I felt like he attacked our brothers - my brothers in the league. I felt it was appropriate to stand up with them and stay in the locker room.

"I know a lot of people might not understand it. A lot of people might be upset about it. And that's fine. I'm not living my life trying to make everybody happy. I'm doing things that I feel are right and things that I believe in. There are only a few times in a man's life where you have a chance to stand up for something that you believe in and make a statement. Today I thought that was that chance, and I took it."

Owner Jerry Richardson's lack of a response reportedly left some Panthers frustrated, with one player, Captain Munnerlyn, saying players were scared of the backlash if they had protested. Richardson met with veteran Panthers players, including Cam Newton, at his house on Wednesday, a meeting that Newton called "productive."

Chicago Bears

Before the first game of Week 4 on Thursday night, the Bears didn't kneel during the national anthem. Instead, they stood and linked arms on their sideline. 

Here's a look at the Bears' sideline:

NFL: Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers
The Bears stand and link arms before Thursday's Week 4 game. USATSI

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals all stood in Week 4 in Cleveland. A week earlier in Green Bay, the team released this statement following the national anthem of their game against the Packers: "Football and politics don't mix easily. Fans come to NFL games to watch great competition on the playing field and that's where our focus should be."

Some Bengals' players locked arms during the anthem, and coach Marvin Lewis said the controversy put players in an "awkward" position.

"Our guys remain very committed to winning football games and continuing the things, the great things they do in our community in Cincinnati -- their outreach and everything they do," Lewis said after the game. "They chose to show their support for our veterans, for our military, for the Cincinnati community by simply standing and standing unified together. They weren't going to let divisive words divide them."

Cleveland Browns

At least nine Browns players raised their fists during the playing of the anthem in Week 4, according to the New York Times. The players with raised fists were Christian Kirksey, Jason McCourty, Randall Telfer, Isaiah Crowell, Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Larry Ogunjobi, Kenny Britt, Dominique Alexander and Ibraheim Campbell.

It was nearly half the amount of the 20 Browns players who took a knee a week before in Indianapolis, including linebacker James Burgess, who supported Trump before comments on Friday evening.

And Browns rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer called out Trump, saying in the wake of the team's 31-28 loss to Indianapolis that "I'm no son of b----" in response to Trump's comments at the Friday rally.

Dallas Cowboys

Every Cowboys player stood for the anthem before Week 4's game in Dallas following a highly-publicized demonstration on Monday Night Football in Week 3 that led to tweets from Donald Trump and a phone call between the president and Jerry Jones. Trump applauded the great anger of booing fans when Jones knelt with Cowboys players in a display of solidarity before the anthem in Week 3 on "Monday Night Football" before rising for the song. The president then tweeted later in the week that he "spoke to" the Cowboys owner, who is a "winner," and that moving forward "players will stand" for the national anthem. 

In a meeting of NFL owners last week, Jones reportedly wanted to try and figure out how to stop the protest while also catering to the social change that the players are hoping to see. "How do we address the root issue for the players on this?" Jones said, via ESPN. "In the long run, it's not good to kneel. People don't want football to be politicized, but there's a need to do something to listen to our players and help them."

Denver Broncos

The Broncos all stood for the anthem Sunday in Denver after announcing their intentions to do so earlier in the week. Brandon Marshall, one of Kaepernick's teammates at Nevada, who joined him in kneeling last season raised a fist. 

John Elway, the Denver Broncos president of football operations, had come under fire ealier in the week after releasing a statement in which he expressed a desire for the NFL and his team to "move forward" from demonstrations of unity during the national anthem and take the "politics out of football."

Elway's desire to keep politics out of sports, however, looks hypocritical, considering barely six months ago he wrote a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Broncos letterhead recommending the confirmation of then-Supreme Court Associate Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch.   

Detroit Lions

In Detroit, Lions owner Martha Ford said that she would financially support their social causes if players refused to kneel during the national anthem. 

Ford had previously issued a statement before the Lions' Week 3 game against the Falcons in Detroit supporting the Lions players' right to protest peacefully.  

"Our game has long provided a powerful platform for dialogue and positive change in many communities throughout our nation," she said. "Thanks primarily to our players, the NFL also has been a unifying force in our country and impactful change has and hopefully will continue to be the result of peaceful expression, done so in order to highlight social injustices of all kind. Negative and disrespectful comments suggesting otherwise are contrary to the founding principles of our country, and we do not support those comments or opinions."

Green Bay Packers

As planned, the Packers stood up and linked arms during the national anthem on Thursday night.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers
A look at the Packers during the national anthem. Benny Sieu / USA TODAY Sports

Though Rodgers said he wanted the fans to lock arms as well in a show of unity, most chose to simply stand instead.

Houston Texans

The Houston Texans stood united as a team Sunday in their home stadium, with some players locking arms.

Indianapolis Colts

Colts players locked arms on Sunday night during the anthem in Seattle and Andrew Luck was shown during the broadcast singing along to the song, although Twitter wasn't sure he got all the words right.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars, as planned, knelt Sunday as a team before the anthem started at Metlife Stadium, then stood as a team for the singing of the song, with some players locking arms. 

Kansas City Chiefs

Prior to the Chiefs' game against Washington in Week 4, Marcus Peters and linebacker Ukeme Eligwe remained seated during the anthem. 

The other players on Kansas City and Washington stood, while some Chiefs locked arms and so did the entire Washington team.  

Los Angeles Chargers

Every Chargers player stood for the national anthem in Week 4 after mass protests in Week 3.

Owner Dean Spanos: "I wholeheartedly agree with the commissioner's statement. The NFL and its players, more than anything, have been a force for good. What our country needs right now is a message of unity, civility and mutual respect."

"You got people in the stands yelling, 'Stand up, stand up,' and our president on Twitter … why you on Twitter, bro?," defensive end Chris McCain said, via the San Diego Union-Tribune. "Why you tweeting us, calling me an S.O.B.? My momma ain't no 'B.' She's a real woman.

"I'm not standing against you, but I want you know that you're a grown man, I'm a grown man, I've got a (2-year-old) daughter who has to follow what you set up, and you're clearly telling me you don't care about my daughter. … Our own commander in chief, this guy who we're supposed to lean on and who is here to protect us, clearly is not on our side. He's not."

Los Angeles Rams

Robert Quinn was the only player to protest during the anthem Sunday in Dallas, raising a fist as he has done numerous times before. 

The Rams played the Thursday before, a day before Trump's remarks, but owner Stan Kroenke still issued this statement: "The Los Angeles Rams, our fan base and our city are all comprised of people from a variety of backgrounds and beliefs. When we recognize that this diversity is our strength and seek to understand different perspectives, we are more enlightened and empathetic human beings. Our organization is committed to celebrating diversity, inclusion and respect, values that help define Los Angeles. We are proud of the work that our players and all NFL players do to make our communities better places to live. We believe in the tenets of the national anthem, which is a pillar of this country; just as freedom of speech is another pillar and a constitutional right. We will continue to support our players' freedom to peacefully express themselves and the  meaningful efforts they make to bring about positive change in our country"

Rams linebacker Connor Barwin tweeted Saturday, hours after Trump's comments: "The constitution guarantees our right to individual opinions. The flag, the National Anthem, represent and celebrate that freedom. We do not live in a country run by a totalitarian government where peacefully sharing opinions WILL get one fired or thrown in jail. We need to celebrate and protect that freedom. If our president doesn't understand this most important truth, it's even more important that we do."

Miami Dolphins

A week after numerous Ravens and Jaguars players launched the league-wide protests in Week 3 from London, three members of the Dolphins -- Kenny Stills, Michael Thomas and Julius Thomas -- knelt on the sideline for the anthem before playing the Saints at Wembley Stadium.

The previous week, Thomas got emotional when talking about why he chose to protest:

Minnesota Vikings

Vikings players stood for the anthem while linking arms Sunday in Minneapolis, except for Jerick McKinnon, who stood behind the sideline for a second straight week. 

New England Patriots

Patriots owner Bob Kraft's rebuke of Trump was among the most vociferous in Week 3. Kraft, who considers himself a close friend of Trump, also donated $1 million to Trump's inauguration celebration.

"I am deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the President on Friday," Kraft said. "I am proud to be associated with so many players who make such tremendous contributions in positively impacting our communities. Their efforts, both on and off the field, help bring people together and make our community stronger.

"There is no greater unifier in this country than sports, and unfortunately, nothing more divisive than politics. I think our political leaders could learn a lot from the lessons of teamwork and the importance of working together toward a common goal. Our players are intelligent, thoughtful, and care deeply about our community and I support their right to peacefully affect social change and raise awareness in a manner that they feel is most impactful."

And quarterback Tom Brady made it clear that he disagreed with Trump.

"I thought it was just divisive," he told WEEI's "Kirk & Callahan." "Like I said, I just want to support my teammates. I am never one to say, 'Oh, that is wrong. That is right.' I do believe in what I believe in. I believe in bringing people together and respect and love and trust. Those are the values that my parents instilled in me. That is how I try and live every day. I have been blessed to be in locker rooms with guys all over the United States over the course of my career. Some of my great friends are from Florida, Virginia, New York, Montana, Colorado, Texas. The one thing about football is it brings so many guys together -- guys you would never have the opportunity to be around. Whether it was in college, and all the way into the pros. We're all different, we're all unique. That is what makes us all special."

Nonetheless, the Patriots -- the reigning Super Bowl champs -- were showered by boos from their home fans during the national anthem.

patriots-booing-tom-brady-anthem.jpg
A  Patriots fan holds up a sign rebuking players for kneeling on Sunday. Twitter

Sunday's Week 4 game against the Panthers saw a much different scene in Foxborough as the Patriots stood with their right hands over their hearts, and their left hands on their teammate's shoulder.

New Orleans Saints

In London, the Saints took a knee in solidarity before the anthem was played before kicking off against the Dolphins. 

 "Our organization takes great pride in equality and inclusion and find the comments by the President disappointing and inappropriate relative to our players on this issue," the Saints wrote in a statement following Trump's remarks. "Tom Benson served in the military and continues to this day to support all military branches and feels strongly that we honor those men and women who defend our freedoms and our freedom of speech. He also believes that the very players that represent the Saints and Pelicans organizations should be allowed to share or express their feelings.

"We prefer to take this moment in time and work together, all of us, to stop the divisiveness. Our players and our organization serve the New Orleans community selflessly and do so without care of race, creed or sexual orientation and that makes us a better city and a better team. We believe strongly in honoring our flag and the national anthem and what it represents and we support our players. We all must strive to show that we are all Americans and continue to work towards equality for all. The NFL and NBA, perhaps more than any sports, have the power to bring communities together." 

And Saints coach Sean Payton went so far as to question Trump's "wisdom."

"I would say, personally, I'm disappointed in the comments that were made. I think we need a little bit more wisdom in that office," Payton told reporters following the team's win over Carolina, via USAToday.com's Nate Davis. 

"That's being a little blunt, but that's how I feel. You know, I want that guy to be one of the smarter guys in the room. And it seems like every time he's opening his mouth, it's something that is dividing our country and not pulling us together. And that has nothing to do with my feelings about the anthem, but just my take [over the last] 24 hours. So that's how I feel."

New York Giants

Star defensive end Olivier Vernon knelt during the anthem for a second straight week, while the rest of the Giants stood with arms linked and a few raised fists. 

After taking a knee in Week 3, Vernon said afterwards, "I don't care if you're the President or not. You ain't my President."

Wide receiver Brandon Marshall added: "I'm really disappointed in President Trump's remarks. That just proves, this is the most powerful man in the country, and for him to stand up and say that, it shows what we feel is real. That's what we're saying. Exactly how President Trump talked, that's what we're talking about."

New York Jets

The New York Jets mostly locked arms as a team Sunday in Metlife Stadium after doing the same in Week 3. Chairman and acting owner Christopher Johnson said in a statement that, "It was an honor and a privilege to stand arm-in-arm unified with our players during today's National Anthem. We are very proud of our players and their strong commitment to work in our community to make a positive, constructive, and unifying impact."

"I look at his comments as just a distraction, trying to distract where we're headed as a country," wide receiver Jermaine Kearse said of Trump, via ESPN.com. "I think people are starting to understand what's going on in this country. You just have to stay away from the distractions and look at the main issues. As a team, we're going to continue to be unified in this. We're going to fight the good fight together."

Oakland Raiders

One of the 52 players who did decide to protest on Sunday was Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch, and while he didn't hear any boos, that's mostly because no at Sports Authority Field could see him. 

Although Lynch doesn't talk a lot to the media, he does have a voice that he's not afraid to use, and he silently used it on Sunday when he arrived in Denver.  On his way to the stadium Lynch wore a shirt that said "Everybody vs. Trump."

Philadelphia Eagles

Malcolm Jenkins, as he has done throughout this season and last, raised his fist in a sign of protest on Sunday, with Rodney McLeod joining him while several Eagles players locked arms. Commissioner Roger Goodell was also at the game and stood for the anthem.

Jenkins had this to say about Trump: "It was no different than the trolls on social media I've been dealing with for a whole year. That same rhetoric is what I hear on a daily basis. It hits other people close to home when you see a teammate or a player across the league that you know is a great person, who is out there trying to do their part, rebuilding our communities and making our communities safer and is then attacked. I think that's why you saw the response that you did."

Pittsburgh Steelers

No team was more divided or distracted by the protests in Week 3 than the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers went so far as to stay in the locker room during the national anthem ahead of their 1 p.m. start in Chicago. But one Steelers player didn't remain in the locker room during the anthem. Starting left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, who was an Army Ranger before joining the NFLstood just outside the player's tunnel at Soldier Field. It was a development that took some of his teammates by surprise

Team president Art Rooney II's statement: "Our players have stayed unified and have respected the fact that, like our country, there are diverse opinions in our locker room. It is a difficult time in our country. I hope that eventually we will come together as a nation to respect the diverse opinions that exist and work together to make our communities better for all our citizens."

Villanueva later apologized for throwing his teammates under the bus and Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger said he regretted Sunday's whole ordeal.

"I was unable to sleep last night and want to share my thoughts and feelings on our team's decision to remain in the tunnel for the national anthem," Roethlisberger said. "The idea was to be unified as a team when so much attention is paid to things dividing our country, but I wish we approached it differently."  

In Week 4, the Steelers were a united front. Every player briefly took a knee before the national anthem, but stood during the song, just like the Ravens on the opposite sideline.

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers played on Thursday Night Football in Week 3, a day before Trump made his charged remarks in Alabama, so Sunday marked their first game to rebuke the president. It also goes without saying that Trump's call for players to stand originates with ex-49ers QB Colin Kaepernick, who started his silent protest during the national anthem during the 2016 NFL preseason. Around 30 players knelt during the playing of the anthem while the rest of the team stood.

GM John Lynch, who had previously stated that the anthem protests were divisive, was also on the field and and all of the 49ers had their hands on their hearts. A smattering of boos could be heard as the 49ers took a knee.

49ers-anthem.jpg
49ers players kneel and stand for the anthem with their hands on their hearts on Sunday. USATSI

Seattle Seahawks

After staying in the locker room in Nashville in Week 3, the Seahawks were on the field for the national anthem before their game on Sunday night against the Colts, but a group of six players, including Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, sat on the bench. Bennett and coach Pete Carroll said in interviews with CNN earlier in the week that they'd welcome a sit-down with Trump to speak about the protests. The Seahawks have also created a fund with the goal of building a more compassionate and inclusive society, calling it the Players Equality & Justice for All Action Fund.
 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Every Buccaneers player stood for Sunday's anthem when the team played host to the Giants in Week 4.

Tennessee Titans

After every single Titans player stayed in the locker room for the anthem during Week 3, only one -- Rishard Matthews -- did the same in Week 4 against the Texans. Jurrell Casey, Wesley Woodyard, Brian Orakpo and DaQuan Jones raised their fists at the closing of the anthem on Sunday in Houston. 

titans-anthem.jpg
The Titans stood for the anthem and locked arms Sunday in Houston.  USATSI

Washington Redskins

The Redskins all stood and locked arms Monday night in Kansas City. Before Sunday Night Football in Week 3, Owner Dan Snyder released this statement: "Football has always served as the great unifier, bringing people together to celebrate the values of courage, commitment and achievement. We are proud of the players, coaches and fans of the Washington Redskins for all that they have done to improve the lives of others in neighborhoods all across our region.

"We are also grateful for the sacrifices made by the brave men and women of our armed forces that have provided us the freedom to play football. In that great tradition, the Washington Redskins will work to address divisions and bring unity, civility and respect to our greater community."

Snyder was one of several NFL owners to donate $1 million to Donald Trump's inauguration celebration.

Shortly after the Redskins beat the Raiders, cornerback Josh Norman, who locked arms with Redskins owner Dan Snyder during the anthem, was brutally candid about his thoughts on Trump.

"What president? Not my president," Norman said, via USAToday.com's Lorenzo Reyes. "He was chosen, true. But when a president acts like that, what do you say to that? That's not someone that stands with dignity, pride, respect, honor. Where's the honor in that? Where's the dignity in that? Where is anything that's prideful in doing what you did? "Words are powerful. They can either unite you, or they can divide you. So what he said united us.

"When a man calls you out like that, behind the (office of the) POTUS, and he's supposed to be the President of America -- he's supposed to be -- calls you out like that, in a group, and there's more going on in the world, that's frustrating," Norman said. "That's coming from you. I'm all cool. You give people the benefit of the doubt, but he's coming in that direction, directly at you, nah, man. One brother, you mess with one, you mess with all. Nobody's divided in this. We was in unity. We wanted to stand for something.

"I'm telling you right now, this man is not welcome in Washington, D.C. He's not. I hope he won't be around when I see him. He's not welcome. I can say that to your face. He's not welcome. ...

Norman's comments about Trump's original remarks echoed those made by players, owners, the NFLPA and the league in the hours and days that followed.

"That's disrespectful," Norman said. "That's appalling. When you call a man an S.O.B., how you call somebody that? That's not your right to do. Understand that."

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

Show Comments Hide Comments
Our Latest Stories
    CBS Sports Shop