BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Ravens fans recorded themselves burning their team gear Sunday after Baltimore players were among the first in the league to take a knee during the national anthem following President Donald Trump’s harsh criticism of the practice.
At a Friday rally, the president said that NFL owners should, when dealing with a player kneeling during the anthem, “get that son of a b**** off the field.”
The president doubled down on his initial remarks over the course of the weekend, calling on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to tell players to stand, and saying those who don’t should be fired. Goodell and some team owners criticized his comments in turn.
On Sunday morning, the president commented again, tweeting on the matter.
The Ravens and Jaguars match-up, which was played in London, was the first NFL game to air following the president’s remarks.
Members of both teams took a knee while the “Star-Spangled Banner” was played.
Some players on both teams, Ravens coach John Harbaugh and Jaguars owner Shad Khan opted to stand arm-in-arm with those on either side of them as the “Star-Spangled Banner” and Britain’s national anthem, “God Save The Queen,” played.
“We’re a tight-knit group and we’re a family and we support anyone that has a feeling toward a certain subject,” said Eric Weddle.
“There is no dividing us. I guess we’re all sons of b****,” said Terrell Suggs.
The negative response from fans came quickly.
(WARNING: The videos below contain strong language and may be offensive to some viewers.)
“There’s a million ways to express a need for social change,” says Harford County Sheriff Jeff Gahler, who was among those who took to Facebook so say that he was getting his team gear “ready for the burn.”
“I didn’t mean as literally as I wrote it,” he said later.
But private citizens also posted videos and images of them burning their jerseys.
Others simply took to Twitter or the team’s Facebook page to say they would no longer support the team.
Many still defend the team’s actions.
“This is not a disrespect of the flag that these people are doing,” says Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott.
He says that the peaceful protests on the field are a sign of respect and that players are fighting for an even bigger cause.
“This isn’t just one player, this isn’t about one player, this is about a cause that they believe in,” says Councilman Scott.
Coach John Harbaugh also discussed how the team is reacting to the controversy during his weekly news conference.
“Our team is united and we stand together as brothers, and I’m proud of that. It means a lot.”