“The NFL players are at it again,” Trump tweeted Friday morning, suggesting players should just “be happy, be cool!”
The Miami Dolphins’ Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson both knelt Thursday night during a preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Dolphins’ Robert Quinn raised his fist during the playing of the anthem.
Stills said he and Wilson did not coordinate their protest ahead of Thursday’s game.
“It just happened that way,” Stills said, according to ESPN. “When I’m on a knee, most of the time I’m praying, and thank God for having Albert next to me. Being a part of this protest hasn’t been easy. I thought I was going to be by myself out there. Today I had an angel with me with Albert being out there. I’m grateful he sees what’s happening, and he wants to do something about it as well.”
After the game, Wilson said violent incidents near his hometown of Port St. Lucie, Florida, inspired him to take part in the protest.
“It’s just something that’s been heavy on my heart, heavy on my mind,” he said, according to The Palm Beach Post. “Just two incidents in my city that happened. I’m pretty much the biggest thing in my city, so I have a chance to take a stance on it.”
Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the peaceful protest against racial inequality in 2016 by kneeling during the playing of the national anthem.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced a ban on the kneeling protests in May. The NFL and the NFL Players Association agreed to suspend enforcement of the new rules in July, after The Associated Press reported the Dolphins would suspend players for up to four games for protesting.
This story has been updated.