In the midst of the war of words between President Donald Trump and NFL players who take a knee during the National Anthem comes word that the Pittsburgh Steelers won’t come out of the locker room for the National Anthem at all.
That news came from Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin in advance of Sunday’s September 24 game against the Bears. Tomlin made the remarks to CBS as Trump escalated his criticism of some NFL players, and some NFL owners defended players’ right to protest.
Trump ignited the war of words with the NFL on Friday, calling players who don’t stand for the National Anthem a “son of a b-tch.” He continued raising the issue on Twitter over the weekend. On Sunday, Trump again called for NFL owners to fire or suspend players who don’t stand for the Anthem. However, multiple owners have since defended their players’ right to protest, and the hashtag #takeaknee trended on Twitter.
Steelers President Art Rooney II released a statement to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette on Saturday saying, “I believe the commissioner made an appropriate statement and I have nothing to add at this time.” Commissioner Roger Goodell had called Trump’s comments divisive, saying, “The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture. There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we’ve experienced over the last month. Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.”
On Twitter, Steelers fans were mixed about whether their team’s players should take a knee.
Specifically, Trump said on Friday, according to New York Upstate, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s FIRED!’ You know, some owner is gonna do that. He’s gonna say, ‘That guy disrespects our flag; he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it. They don’t know it. They’re friends of mine, many of them. They don’t know it. They’ll be the most popular person, for a week. They’ll be the most popular person in this country.”
Read about other owners’ comments on the Trump controversy here: