The NFL will air a new commercial called “Inside These Lines” that will air during games on Sunday, in response to President Donald Trump calling for owners to fire players who protest police brutality by kneeling during the National Anthem. The NFL and its team owners have stood by their players.
“We will air this Unity spot in tonight’s game. It reflects the unifying force of our great game, our players & clubs,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell tweeted, including a link to the one-minute spot.
The commercial is filled with archival footage of players of different races on the same team and opposing players helping each other out, including the moment when the Seattle Seahawks’ Richard Sherman helped the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady get up. Another clip included shows Arizona Cardinals player Pat Tillman, who was killed in Afghanistan.
“Inside these lines, we don’t have to come from the same place to help each other reach the same destination,” a narrator says. “Inside these lines, we may have our differences, but recognize there’s more that unities us. Inside these lines is a game of inches and there’s no such thing as an easy yard when you fight to move forward. Inside these lines, we’re not only defined by our victories, but by the way we handle our defeats. Inside these lines, we can bring out the best in each other and live united inside these lines.”
At the end of the ad, the camera zooms out to show the outline of the U.S. with yardage markers inside.
The ad was released after Trump’s statements on Friday. He told a crowd in Alabama that he’d like to see an NFL owner who has a player kneeling during the National Anthem say, “‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now'” and fire him.
“You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it [but] they’ll be the most popular person in this country,” Trump said Friday.
The protest was started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick during the 2016 season to protest police brutality. Kaepernick remains an un-signed free agent, but no current player has been fired for kneeling during the anthem. In fact, before the Ravens-Jaguars game in London, Jaguars owner Shad Khan joined his players in their protest.
“It was a privilege to stand on the sidelines with the Jacksonville Jaguars today for the playing of the U.S. national anthem at Wembley Stadium,” Khan said later. “I met with our team captains prior to the game to express my support for them, all NFL players and the league following the divisive and contentious remarks made by President Trump, and was honored to be arm in arm with them, their teammates and our coaches during our anthem. Our team and the National Football League reflects our nation, with diversity coming in many forms – race, faith, our views and our goals. We have a lot of work to do, and we can do it, but the comments by the President make it harder. That’s why it was important for us, and personally for me, to show the world that even if we may differ at times, we can and should be united in the effort to become better as people and a nation.”