Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan joined dozens of NFL football players in a silent demonstration during the national anthem on Sunday.
Khan, who donated $1 million to President Donald Trump’s inauguration committee, linked arms with players Marcedes Lewis and Telvin Smith at Wembley Stadium in London as an estimated 27 others took a knee on the field.
The stance came in response to Trump saying the NFL should fire players who, in protest of social injustices, kneel during the playing of the national anthem. He also encouraged fans to boycott the league over the protests.
“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,’” Trump said during a rally on Friday in Alabama.
He echoed that sentiment on Twitter on Saturday and again on Sunday.
Baltimore Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley, wide receiver Mike Wallace and safety Lardarius Webb were among those defying the president by taking a knee on the field on Sunday in London, The Associated Press reported.
Participating Jaguars players included linebacker Dante Fowler, defensive tackle Calais Campbell, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
In a statement, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti voiced support for the athletes’ decision to demonstrate, calling it “democracy in its highest form.”
“We recognize our players’ influence. We respect their demonstration and support them 100 percent. All voices need to be heard. That’s democracy in its highest form,” he said in a statement posted to Twitter.
Pittsburgh Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin, whose team plays the Chicago Bears on Sunday in Chicago, announced that his players will not take the field during the national anthem.
“We’re not going to play politics,” he told CBS News.
“We’re football players, we’re football coaches. We’re not participating in the anthem today. Not to be disrespectful to the anthem, but to remove ourselves from this circumstance,” he said. “People shouldn’t have to choose. If a guy wants to go about his normal business and participate in the anthem, he shouldn’t have to be forced to choose sides. If a guy feels the need to do something, he shouldn’t be separated from his teammate who chooses not to. So we’re not participating today.”
At game time, almost all of the Steelers declined to come out for the anthem.
Offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva, an Army veteran, broke with the team to stand at the tunnel entrance to the field for the national anthem. When the Steelers emerged, many in the Chicago crowd booed them. Many of the Bears’ players linked arms as the anthem played.
Los Angeles Rams owner Stanley Kroenke expressed support of his players’ “freedom to peacefully express themselves” in a statement posted to Twitter on Sunday.
This article has been updated with protests at the Steelers-Bears game.