Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin told CBS Sports that the team will not be participating in the national anthem at Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears. Tomlin says that the team will remain in the locker room during the traditional opening of the game so as not to “play politics” in a situation that has become increasingly political since Colin Kaepernick’s now-famous kneel during the national anthem last year and Donald Trump’s criticism of the NFL on Friday, calling for players who protest during the national anthem to be fired.
In an interview with Jaime Erdahl, Tomlin said that the Steelers would remain in the locker room during the anthem so that they were not forced to “choose sides.”
“We’re not going to play politics. We’re football players, we’re football coaches. We’re not participating in the anthem today, not to be disrespectful to the anthem, to remove ourselves from the circumstance.”
Sunday was already expected to be an eventful day in terms of player protests after President Trump’s loud calls for boycotts and the firing of players who refuse to stand during the national anthem.
The Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens made waves early Sunday morning before they faced off in London, with many members of both teams electing to either kneel during the national anthem or link arms in solidarity. Among those linking arms on the sidelines was Jags owner Shahid Kahn, who donated $1 million to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
In what has become an escalating war of words between the professional sports community and the president of the United States, New England Patriots owner and longtime Trump supporter Robert Kraft responded to the president’s remarks, saying that he was “deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the president.” He continued on to say that “there is no greater unifier in this country than sports, and unfortunately, nothing more divisive than politics.”
Trump turned his ire on the NBA as well, tweeting that the Golden State Warriors’ invitation to the White House had been “withdrawn” after Stephen Curry had apparently “hesitated” in accepting it. LeBron James responded to the president via Twitter.
[Featured image by Keith Srakocic/AP Images]