The Pittsburgh Steelers won't be participating in the national anthem prior to Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears, coach Mike Tomlin told CBS Sports' Jamie Erdahl.
After President Trump repeatedly spoke out in the last three days on players' protests, Tomlin said he didn't want players to feel like they had to take a side in a public display.
"We're not going to play politics. We're football players, we're football coaches," Tomlin said. "We're not participating in the anthem today - not to be disrespectful to the anthem, but to remove ourselves from the circumstance.
"People shouldn't have to choose. If a guy wants to go about his normal business and participate in the anthem, he shouldn't 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."
Before Sunday's game against the Buccaneers, the Vikings released a statement saying:
"Professional sports offer a platform unlike any other, a platform that can bring people from a variety of backgrounds together to impact positive change in our society. As owners, it is our job to foster an environment that recognizes and appreciates diversity of thought and encourages using this platform in a constructive manner. Rather than make divisive statements, we believe in promoting thoughtful, inspiring conversation that unifies our communities. We are proud of our players, coaches and staff for the important role they play in our community, and we fully support their constitutional right to respectfully and peacefully express their beliefs."
Statement from Zygi and Mark Wilf and the entire Wilf family. pic.twitter.com/1YeAaKyjaW— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) September 24, 2017
The Steelers decision comes after President Trump repeatedly called for owners and the NFL to take action against players who choose not to stand during the national anthem.
At a rally in Alabama on Friday, Trump said: "Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a b---- off the field right now. Out. He's fired. He's fired!"
After calling out NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Saturday for his response to the comments, Trump said on Twitter Sunday that players who protested should be fined or suspended.
Steelers owner Art Rooney II said in a statement Saturday that he would not add to Goodell's statement, which called Trump's remarks "divisive."
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