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Volume 24 No. 115
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Trump Takes On NFL: Fans Divided As Some Support Protests, Others Vehemently Oppose

Fans at Gillette Stadium yesterday "booed during the anthem and some shouted, 'Stand up!'" to a group of 16 Patriots who knelt for the national anthem before yesterday's game against the Texans, according to Christopher Gasper of the BOSTON GLOBE. Patriots S Devin McCourty, who was one of the players who knelt, said, "We hate that people are going to see it as we don't respect the military and the men and women that are way braver than us and go and put their life on the line every day for us to have the right to play football. We know that people are going to see it that way" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/25).'s Tom Curran wrote, "It didn't surprise me some people at Gillette Stadium had a visceral and vocal reaction to players kneeling." The pot was "brought to a boil all weekend, the lid was just lifted and it bubbled over." Fans were there for football and "in the end it was the football that brought the unified response that stood in contrast to the divided reactions in the stands and on the field before the game." The "mish-mash of ways in which players responded during the anthem on the Patriots sideline, the reticence of some players to dip a toe in the conversation, McCourty's opening statement at the podium and then his declining to take questions" and Patriots coach Bill Belichick's comment that he "would 'deal with that later' all seemed to indicate that the team itself is still working through how it expresses itself as a whole" (, 9/24).

: The N.Y. TIMES' Hoffman & Booth note the entire Raider offensive line, which is "made up entirely of African-American players, was joined by virtually the entire team in kneeling or sitting during the national anthem." It was "one of the strongest visual displays of the many protests on Sunday." Many fans in attendance at FedExField "could be heard booing the players while they sat" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/25). In DC, Dan Steinberg notes after the anthem was played, many fans who booed the Raiders players "didn't leave" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/25).

MORE REACTIONS ACROSS THE LEAGUE: In N.Y., Hoffman & Booth note the crowd at Lucas Oil Stadium for Browns-Colts was "booing loudly as players on both teams chose to either lock arms or kneel" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/25). In Indianapolis, Gregg Doyel notes "thousands were booing" and for the crowd, the booing "came fast and it came easy." The fans' rage prompted Browns RB Duke Johnson to "lift his arms in response, egging them on, asking them to bring it" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 9/25). In L.A., Farmer & King note at StubHub Center for Chiefs-Chargers, three Chargers "sat on the bench and three more knelt during the anthem." There were a "few catcalls of 'Stand up!' from the crowd." The rest of the team had "linked arms," including Chargers Chair Dean Spanos (L.A. TIMES, 9/25). In Baltimore, Broadwater & Zrebiec note many Ravens fans said that they were "supporting the demonstration as a way to speak out against racial inequality in America." But others "reacted angrily, describing the protests as anti-patriotic and promising to boycott the NFL and destroy their Ravens gear" (Baltimore SUN, 9/25). In N.Y., Ken Belson notes the Steelers, who remained in the locker room during the playing of the national anthem, were "booed heavily by fans in Chicago when they ran onto the field after the anthem" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/25). In Philadelphia, Michael Boren noted the debate "reached a boiling point half an hour before" Giants-Eagles as "about 20 protesters marched toward Lincoln Financial Field, chanting, 'Take a knee.'" Some fans "gave the protesters high fives, but others responded angrily" (, 9/24).

FAN WALK-OUT WOULD GET ATTENTION: In DC, Ralph Hallow writes organized mass exits would "beat the flag flouters at their own mass-media game." When fans "walk out after standing for 'Oh say can you see...,' the TV cameras will show" them "saying, louder and better, the opposite of what the flag back-handers are saying." The TV cameras will follow fans to the "exits of those vast stadiums -- instant TV impact nationally and internationally" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 9/25).