Vice President Mike Pence, who attended Sunday’s Indianapolis Colts game, left the game early after several players staged an anthem protest.
“I left today’s Colts game because President Trump and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem,” Pence said in a statement.
“At a time when so many Americans are inspiring our nation with their courage, resolve, and resilience now, more than ever, we should rally around our Flag and everything that unites us.”
According to ESPN, over 20 players on the visiting San Francisco 49ers kneeled during the anthem, with fellow 49ers standing behind them with one hand on the kneeling players’ shoulder.
On the other sideline, Colts players wore t-shirts with the message “We Will” and “Stand for equality, justice, unity, respect, dialogue, opportunity.” Colts players also locked armed during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
“While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I don’t think it’s too much to ask NFL players to respect the Flag and our National Anthem,” Pence continued. “I stand with President Trump, I stand with our soldiers, and I will always stand for our Flag and our National Anthem.”
Pence attended Sunday’s game to attend the Colts’ Ring of Honor induction ceremony for Peyton Manning.
Following league-wide protests September 24th following Trump’s comments regarding protesting players, the NFL returned to business as mostly usual last Sunday as only a handful of players continued to stage demonstrations during the anthem. However, Pence’s stance will likely revive the debate – as well as Trump’s calls to boycott – in the coming week.
Trump later tweeted, “I asked
@VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country. I am proud of him and @SecondLady Karen.”
On Friday, Colts owner Jim Irsay, a music fanatic, donated $100,000 to create a fund that would work “to promote equality, improve relationships between law enforcement and the community and provide opportunities for minorities.”
We were proud to stand – with all our @Colts – for our soldiers, our flag, and our National Anthem ?? pic.twitter.com/mkZiKMkPDD
– Vice President Pence (@VP) October 8, 2017