The Pittsburgh Steelers didn't participate in the national anthem at all. The entire team stayed in the locker room during the playing of the "Star Spangled Banner." Only offensive lineman and former Army ranger Alejandro Villanueva stood with his hand over his heart in the tunnel. Coach Mike Tomlin stood by himself on the sideline. Tomlin said before the game the players would remain in the locker room and that “we’re not going to let divisive times or divisive individuals affect our agenda.” Tomlin added that the Steelers made this choice “not to be disrespectful to the anthem but to remove ourselves from this circumstance. People shouldn’t have to choose.”
Alejandro Villanueva was the only Pittsburgh Steeler player present during the national anthem before Sunday's game. The rest of the team stayed in the locker room.
A handful of Miami Dolphins players wore T-shirts supporting free agent Colin Kaepernick during pregame warm-ups. The shirts had "#IMWITHKAP" written in bold lettering on the front.
Miami Dolphins athletes wore shirts with "#IMWITHKAP" during pregame warm-ups.
Kaepernick started this movement in the 2016 football season when he refused to stand during the national anthem as a protest. No team has signed him this season. Some supporters believe NFL owners are avoiding signing Kaepernick due to the controversy.
Colin Kaepernick began the protest in 2016 by kneeling during the national anthem. He is now a free agent and no team has signed him this season.
Several team owners released statements on Sunday showing support for their players and disapproval of the president's words. Cleveland Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam called the president's remarks "misguided, uninformed and divisive."
"We must not let misguided, uninformed and divisive comments from the President or anyone else deter us from our efforts to unify. Our stance in support of the liberties of peaceful, personal expression afforded to our players and all Americans will remain strong, and we will continue to encourage our players to respectfully use their earned platform to inspire positive change in our nation and throughout society."
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a tweet on Sunday that the league will re-air a unity television advertisement during Sunday's game between the Oakland Raiders and the Washington Redskins. The ad first ran during February's Super Bowl. The one-minute video, called "Inside These Lines," promotes players embracing one another on the field and "reflects the unifying force of our great game, our players & clubs," Goodell tweeted. The narrator says, “Inside these lines, we don’t have to come from the same place to help each other reach the same destination.”