President Trump weighed in on Detroit Lions and Houston Texans players kneeling during the national anthem prior to their Thanksgiving Day football game.
Trump offered a two-word response on Twitter to pictures of the Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford and his counterpart for the Texans, Deshaun Watson, taking a knee in protest of police brutality and racism in the U.S.
“No thanks!” he wrote.
Trump has been a fierce critic of players kneeling during the anthem, accusing them of disrespecting the military. However, multiple players have said that their protest has nothing to do with the military and instead has everything to do with social injustice
Players have knelt during the national anthem since the first week of the NFL season after a summer of racial tension and protests after the deaths of several Black people in police-involved incidents.
NFL broadcasts showed the protests during the anthem during the start of the season but tapered off as the season continued.
Stafford explained to reporters earlier in the season why he was kneeling during the anthem.
“Just felt like it was the right thing at the right time,” he said in September via MLive. “Obviously it’s been an amazing offseason just for our team, for a lot of people, something where there’s been great opportunity for growth and learning and understanding, and just felt like it was the right thing for me.”
The Texans made a statement before their opening game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The team chose to stay in the locker room during the playing national anthem and “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as the Black national anthem. They then joined Chiefs players in a “moment of unity.”
The demonstrations were a part of the league’s effort to promote social justice issues. The league had painted “End Racism” in teams’ end zones as well.