by: KIRO 7 News Staff, Associated Press Updated:
Seattle Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll has responded to President Donald Trump's suggestion that National Football League owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem. And he encouraged spectators to walk out in protest.
The statement from Carroll reads:
"In this incredibly polarizing time, there’s no longer a place to sit silently. It’s time to take a stand. We stand for love and justice and civility. We stand for our players and their constitutional rights, just as we stand for equality for all people. We stand against divisiveness and hate and dehumanization. We are in the midst of a tremendously challenging time, a time longing for healing. Change needs to happen; we will stand for change. May we all have the courage to take a stand for our beliefs while not diminishing the rights of others as this is the beating heart of our democracy. As a team, we are united in a mission to bring people together to help create positive change. We can no longer remain silent. I will stand with our players"
The statement was released through Pete Carroll's twitter account Saturday night:
In an extended riff during a freewheeling rally speech in Alabama Friday night, Trump also bemoaned that football games have become less violent.
"They're ruining the game," he complained.
After Trump made his remarks, Seattle Seahawks players took to social media to respond. See the responses embedded below.
“The behavior of the President is unacceptable and needs to be addressed,” Richard Sherman wrote. “If you do not Condemn this divisive Rhetoric you are Condoning it!”
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Defensive lineman for the Seahawks, Michael Bennett, responded Saturday afternoon.
"My mom is a beautiful lady she has never been a bitch," Bennett wrote.
His response comes after Trump said, "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you'd say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He's fired."
Richard Sherman wants to address how the President is dividing the country. pic.twitter.com/lWQhR0ARpZ— The Players' Tribune (@PlayersTribune) September 24, 2017
Statement from Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin. Maybe my favorite response thus far. pic.twitter.com/MpH2Y1dC44— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) September 23, 2017
Bennett sits during the national anthem during the game. He says he sits in protest of racial inequality.
When the anthem began during Seattle’s home opener against San Francisco, Bennett took what's become his usual seat on the bench. Seattle center Justin Britt and running back Thomas Rawls stood next to Bennett each with a hand on his shoulder during the anthem. Teammates Cliff Avril and Frank Clark also sat with Bennett for the final few bars of the anthem.
“I just want to see people have the equality that they deserve, and I want to use this platform to continuously push the message of that. It’s more about being a human being at this point,” Bennett told reporters after the Seahawks first preseason game in Los Angeles.
Many other NFL players around the league also protest. Notably, Bennett and Britt's former teammate and current Oakland Raider Marshawn Lynch remained seated during the national anthem before the Raiders' first two preseason games.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the first to draw attention for his failure to stand during the anthem.
In the 2016 preseason, he told NFL Media that he was “not going to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
“To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way,” Kaepernick said. “There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
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