Gerald McCoy: 'Uproar' would result if National Football League players can't protest during anthem

Vice President Mike Pence at the Colts game shortly before he walked out. Youtube  MSNBC

The protests has been criticized by Trump, who said protesting during national anthems was disrespecting the country and its military.

Unlike other professional sports leagues, such as the NBA, the NFL does not now mandate that players stand during the national anthem.

President Trump early Tuesday said that tax laws should be altered, arguing the National Football League (NFL) receives "massive tax breaks" while its players disrespect the US flag and national anthem.

The protests first started in 2016 when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt before the anthem, but they gained fresh impetus recently when the President called for any player who refused to stand to be fired.

It wasn't immediately clear what the plan entailed, according to Roger Goodell's letter to team owners, but it will be discussed at an owners' meeting next week. Other Bucs players on Tuesday expressed their appreciation for the freedom that the Bucs - both from the Glazer family that owns the team to coach Dirk Koetter - allowed players to express themselves as they wanted on the issue.

The kneel protest movement began a year ago when Colin Kaepernick, then a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers but now unsigned by any National Football League club, said it was aimed at raising awareness of police brutality, social injustice and racial inequality issues in the wake of several police shootings across the United States of African-American men.

In a memo to team owners, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the national anthem row "is threatening to erode the unifying power of our game". It is an important moment in our game. They need, as a collective body meaning the commissioner in consent with the owners, to address Donald Trump, the President of the United States, and some of his attacks on him. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us.

Mr Goodell added that the controversy over the anthem "is a barrier to having honest conversations and making real progress on the underlying issues". However, the league made mention of future elements that "promote the work of our players on these core issues".

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