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Mitchell Gunn/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- NFL players, teams and owners across the league responded Sunday to President Trump's criticism of players kneeling in protest during the national anthem, with some kneeling, others locking arms and still others choosing not to participate in the national anthem ceremony at all.

As the "Star-Spangled Banner" played at Soldier Field in Chicago for the noon game between the Chicago Bears and the Steelers, the Pittsburgh team's sideline was virtually empty.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told a CBS Sports reporter prior to the game that his team would stay in the locker room during the anthem.

"We're not participating in the anthem today," Tomlin said, adding that the action was "not to be disrespectful to the anthem" but to remove the team "from this circumstance."

"People shouldn't have to choose" whether to kneel or stand during the anthem, he said. "If a guy feels a need to do something he should not be separated from his teammate who chooses not to."

"So we're not participating today," he said. "That's our decision."

During the anthem, several Steelers coaches were on the sidelines and one player, former Army Ranger Alejandro Villaneuva, stood near the tunnel to the team's locker room, ESPN reported.

The decision by most Steelers not to participate was among the many varied responses on Sunday and over the weekend to Trump's calling for the firing of NFL players who kneel in protest during the anthem.

Both the Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans, who played each other on Sunday, made separate announcements that nobody from either team would be on the sidelines for the anthem.

"As a team, we wanted to be unified in our actions today. The players jointly decided this was the best course of action. Our commitment to the military and our community is resolute and the absence of our team for the national anthem shouldn't be misconstrued as unpatriotic," the Titan's statement said.

The Seahawks players statement said, "As a team, we have decided we will not participate in the national anthem. We will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of color in this country. Out of love for our country and in honor of the sacrifices made on our behalf, we unite to oppose those that would deny our most basic freedoms. We remain committed in continuing work towards equality and justice for all."

Earlier Sunday, a host of players in London took a knee and locked arms together as the United States national anthem was performed.

Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady


The Green Bay Packers' quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, posted on Instagram that he supports fellow NFL players and coaches and included a photo of him kneeling with three other teammates, with the hashtags: "#unity #brotherhood #family #dedication #love"

Underneath the post, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady appeared to endorse Rogers' stance with a raised-fist emoji.

Brady also posted on Instagram a supportive message to all NFL players.

Arm-in-arm at a game across the Atlantic

A game played at Wembley Stadium in London was a matchup between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Baltimore Ravens. Among the players and coaches locking arms with players during the protest over the U.S. national anthem was Jaguars owner Shahid Khan.

Jaguars tight end Mercedes Lewis and linebackers Telvin Smith and Dante Fowler as well as defensive tackle Calais Campbell and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and cornerback Jalen Ramsey all took knees as did Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley, wide receiver Mike Wallace and safety Lardarius Webb.

The ones who didn't kneel stood arm-in-arm throughout the playing of both country's anthems. The team's official Twitter account posted a one-word tweet "Unity" to capture the moment.

 

Unity pic.twitter.com/wSNsc4BSEV

— Jacksonville Jaguars (@Jaguars) September 24, 2017

 

Khan himself released a statement calling Trump remarks as "divisive and contentious" and declared his support for his players after meeting with some of them before the game. He said he was "honored to be arm in arm with them, their teammates and our coaches during our anthem."

The owner added that the team and the NFL "reflects our nation" said that it was personally important "to show the world that even if we may differ at times, we can and should be united in the effort to become better as people and a nation." 

 

Several Jaguars and Ravens players at Wembley kneel for the US National anthem, stand for the British national anthem.

— Henry Hodgson (@nflukhank) September 24, 2017

 

Trump's view

The protests come in response to the president's comments at a rally Friday night in Alabama when he 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."

The president then appeared to channel his signature command from when he hosted the reality television show "The Apprentice."

"He's fired. He's fired."

On Sunday, before NFL games kicked off, the president's tweets reinforced his anti-anthem protest message.

He also suggested that if fans refuse to go to games due to the protests, "you will see change fast."

 

...NFL attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN. Boring games yes, but many stay away because they love our country. League should back U.S.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017

 

 

If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017

 

On Saturday night, the president went after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for criticizing Trump's condemnation of kneeling players.

Goodell is "trying to justify the total disrespect certain players show to our country," Trump tweeted. 

 

Roger Goodell of NFL just put out a statement trying to justify the total disrespect certain players show to our country.Tell them to stand!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017

 

NFL to air 'unity' commercial

The NFL commissioner did not mention the president by name in his statement Saturday.

"Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities," Goodell said.

The NFL also announced that it would re-air its commercial from February, "Inside These Lines," promoting societal unity and tolerance. "It reflects the unifying force of our great game, our players & clubs," Goodell said on Twitter.

In the commercial spot, Academy Award-winning actor Forrest Whittaker narrates as various lines are chalked on the grass.

Just as Jacksonville Jaguars’ defensive end Eli Ankou, who is black, lifts opposing Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who is white, off the turf, Whittaker softly states: “We may have our differences but recognize there’s more that unites us.”

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Leon Halip/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- When New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft came out publicly against President Trump over the ongoing spat over NFL players kneeling during the "Star-Spangled Banner" ahead of games, the man who previously called the president a “very good friend” was not alone, as multiple owners are beginning to speak out on the issue.

"There is no greater unifier in this country than sports, and unfortunately, nothing more divisive than politics," Kraft said in a statement tweeted by the Patriots.

The champion team's CEO came out against Trump after the president made comments during a rally in Huntsville, Alabama on Friday, saying, "Wouldn’t you love to see one of the NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say 'Get that son of a b---- off the field right now?'"

"You know, some owner ... is going to say, 'That guy who disrespects our flag, he’s fired,'" the president said to thunderous applause and cheers.

Kraft made it clear on Sunday he disagrees with the 45th president. Rather, he supports players' rights "to peacefully [effect] social change."

"I think our political leaders could learn a lot from the lessons of teamwork and the importance of working together toward a common goal," the statement said. "Our players are intelligent, thoughtful, and care deeply about our community, and I support their right to peacefully affect social change and raise awareness in a manner that they feel is impactful."

The billionaires' beef comes only months after the Patriots made a formal visit to the White House in April, during which Kraft called Trump a "very good friend" and paralleled his presidential run with the team's historic comeback win in this year’s Super Bowl over the Atlanta Falcons. Trump, he said, "preserved" over 16 career politicians, and faced incredible odds.

Statement from #Patriots Chairman & CEO Robert Kraft: pic.twitter.com/f5DJeK0Woj

— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 24, 2017

Kraft's comments came shortly after Trump on Sunday morning had turned his attention to NFL fans in his feud with the league over players who kneel in protest during the national anthem, saying many people should "stay away" from the games "because they love our country."

The president, who already disinvited NBA superstar Stephen Curry and the champion Golden State Warriors team from being feted at the White House, also suggested on Twitter that if NFL fans refuse to go to games because of these protests, "you will see change fast."

...NFL attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN. Boring games yes, but many stay away because they love our country. League should back U.S.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017

If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017

Trump's tweets came just a couple of hours before a series of NFL games scheduled for the day kicked off.

Across the country and in the U.K., many NFL owners like Kraft backed their players -- including owners of the Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, and Miami Dolphins.

Some were locked in arms with their team players and coaches as the "Star-Spangled Banner" performed, later expressing support to fight racial injustice and push back against the president's fiery rhetoric from Friday.

Jeffrey Lurie was one owner who on Sunday stood shoulder to shoulder with his Philadelphia Eagles players as they raised fists raised into the air as the "Star-Spangled Banner" played.

In a statement, the owner backed his players for their "courage, character, and commitment" into bettering communities and "to call attention to injustice."

"Having spoken with our players, I can attest to the great respect they have for our national anthem and all it represents," he said in the statement. "We at the Philadelphia Eagles firmly believe that in this difficult time of division and conflict, it is more important than ever for football to be a great unifier."

Although it appeared no team member kneeled on Sunday, Jets owner Christopher Johnson, brother of Woody Johnson, who is on hiatus from the team since Trump tapped him to be the country's ambassador to the U.K., was spotted locking arms with his players during the national anthem.

pic.twitter.com/F6RbbKOP3t

— New York Jets (@nyjets) September 24, 2017

In a statement tweeted on the team's official Twitter page, Johnson wrote, "It was an honor and a privilege to stand arm-in-arm unified with our players during Sunday's National Anthem."

In Detroit, Lions owner Martha Ford stood with her three daughters on the sideline next to her coach Jim Caldwell. Fans created an orchestra of boos as eight Lions players including Ameer Abdullah, Tahir Whitehead and other members of the defensive line kneeled and locked arms.

Across the field, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank locked arms with receiver Julio Jones and running back Devonta Freeman as the national anthem was sung by Rico Lavelle, who at the end of it bent right knee and raised his right fist, clutching the microphone.

Near the 50-yard line, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross locked arms with safety Reshad Jones and center Mike Pouncey before they battled the Jets.

The day before, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross also on Saturday did not refer to the president directly, but said in a statement the country "needs unifying leadership right now, not more divisiveness."

Statement from Miami Dolphins Owner and Founder of Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) Stephen Ross. pic.twitter.com/6W3mXwJO6M

— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) September 23, 2017

Also locking arms with players during the protest over the U.S. national anthem was Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan.

Khan, in a statement, called Trump’s remarks "divisive and contentious," and declared his support for his players after meeting with some of the captains before the game.

Khan said he was "honored to be arm in arm with them, their teammates and our coaches during our anthem."

The owner added that the team and the NFL "reflects our nation," and said that it was personally important "to show the world that even if we may differ at times, we can and should be united in the effort to become better as people and a nation."

The Pittsburgh Steelers' coach Mike Tomlin decided to skip the anthem altogether on Sunday.

"We're not participating in the anthem today," Tomlin said, adding that the action was "not to be disrespectful to the anthem" but to remove the team "from this circumstance."

"People shouldn't have to choose" whether to kneel or stand during the anthem, he said. "If a guy feels a need to do something he should not be separated from his teammate who chooses not to."

"So we're not participating today," he said. "That's our decision."

At Soldier Field, Coach Tomlin was spotted with other coaches on the sideline, but most of the players remained in the locker room as expected.

Once the national anthem commenced, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger walked out of the tunnel, as did left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, who served as an Army ranger in Afghanistan. He held a hand over his heart as he marched onto the field.

Pittsburgh is a team whose ownership switched generations after the late Dan Rooney -- who was appointed by President Obama to serve as ambassador to Ireland from 2009, before resigning in 2012 -- passed away in April.

His son, Art, has since taken over as the team's top executive.

San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York weighed in Saturday afternoon calling the president's comments "callous and offensive" and "contradictory to this great country stands for."

pic.twitter.com/nrx16iBlkw

— Jed York (@JedYork) September 23, 2017

Meanwhile, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was also in Trump's crosshairs for speaking out against the president's condemnation of kneeling players and statement that team owners should fire those players.

Goodell is "trying to justify the total disrespect certain players show to our country," Trump tweeted.

Roger Goodell of NFL just put out a statement trying to justify the total disrespect certain players show to our country.Tell them to stand!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017

Goodell did not mention the president by name in his statement earlier Sunday.

"Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities."

NFL players across the league either kneeled or sat on the bench during the national anthem before Sunday's games.

The silent protest that has caught fire in the past week was started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick, who has yet to be signed by an NFL team, began kneeling in the preseason in 2016 as a sign of protest over the treatment of blacks in the U.S.

The president of the NFL Players Union, which represents current and former players, released a statement on Saturday: "The balance between the rights of every citizen in our great country gets crossed when someone is told to just 'shut up and play.'"

Union President DeMaurice Smith acknowledged in his statement that “the peaceful demonstrations by some of our players" haven't been universally supported, but "have generated a wide array of responses."

But, he added, "Those opinions are protected speech and a freedom that has been paid for by the sacrifice of men and women throughout history ... No man or woman should ever have to choose a job that forces them to surrender their rights."

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Sara Kauss/FilmMagic via Getty Images(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- Meghan Linsey, the singer performing “The Star-Spangled Banner" at Sunday’s Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans game in Nashville, took a knee on a field with no players present after finishing her rendition of the national anthem.

Linsey, a former contestant on "The Voice," was receiving rapturous applause for her performance at at Nissan Stadium when she chose to bend down on one knee -- a move that has become political symbol over the past year and particularly over the weekend after President Trump called for the firing of NFL players who kneel in protest during the anthem.

On Sunday afternoon, both the Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans made separate announcements that nobody from either team would be on the sidelines for the anthem.

"As a team, we wanted to be unified in our actions today. The players jointly decided this was the best course of action. Our commitment to the military and our community is resolute and the absence of our team for the national anthem shouldn't be misconstrued as unpatriotic," the Titans' statement said.

The Seahawks players statement said, "As a team, we have decided we will not participate in the national anthem. We will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of color in this country. Out of love for our country and in honor of the sacrifices made on our behalf, we unite to oppose those that would deny our most basic freedoms. We remain committed in continuing work towards equality and justice for all."

The protests come in response to the president's comments at a rally Friday night in Alabama when he 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."

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Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft criticized President Trump, whom he has previously called a "very good friend," saying he is "deeply disappointed" in Trump's comments condemning NFL players who kneel in protest during the national anthem.

"There is no greater unifier in this country than sports, and unfortunately, nothing more divisive than politics," Kraft said in a statement tweeted by the Patriots.

Statement from #Patriots Chairman & CEO Robert Kraft: pic.twitter.com/f5DJeK0Woj

— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 24, 2017

"I think our political leaders could learn a lot from the lessons of teamwork and the importance of working together toward a common goal," the statement said.

The public disagreement comes only months after the Patriots made a formal visit to the White House in April during which Kraft called Trump a "very good friend."

Kraft's comments came shortly after President Trump on Sunday morning turned his attention to NFL fans in his feud with the league over players who kneel in protest during the national anthem, saying many people "stay away" from the games "because they love our country."

The president also suggested that if fans refuse to go to games due to the protests, "you will see change fast."

...NFL attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN. Boring games yes, but many stay away because they love our country. League should back U.S.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017

If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017

Trump's tweets Sunday came just a couple of hours before a series of NFL games scheduled for the day began.

Earlier, on Saturday night, the president slammed NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for speaking out against Trump's condemnation of kneeling players.

Goodell is "trying to justify the total disrespect certain players show to our country," Trump tweeted.

Roger Goodell of NFL just put out a statement trying to justify the total disrespect certain players show to our country.Tell them to stand!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017

Goodell did not mention the president by name in his statement earlier today.

"Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities."

NFL players across the league and their union -- and even some team officials -- were more direct in their response to Trump's criticism Friday night of the handful of NFL players who have kneeled or sat on the bench during the national anthem performed before games over the past two seasons. The practice was most famously done by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick, who is currently unsigned, began kneeling in the preseason in 2016 as a sign of protest over the treatment of blacks in the U.S.

Trump, speaking at a rally in Alabama on Friday, said, "Wouldn’t you love to see one of the NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say 'Get that son of a b---- off the field right now?'"

The president of the NFL Players Union, which represents current and former players, released a statement on Saturday: "The balance between the rights of every citizen in our great country gets crossed when someone is told to just 'shut up and play.'"

Union President DeMaurice Smith acknowledged in his statement that “the peaceful demonstrations by some of our players" haven't been universally supported, but "have generated a wide array of responses."

But, he added, "Those opinions are protected speech and a freedom that has been paid for by the sacrifice of men and women throughout history ... No man or woman should ever have to choose a job that forces them to surrender their rights."

Hours later Trump fired back at his critics, tweeting that it was a "privilege" for athletes to earn a lucrative career in professional sports.

If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL,or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect....

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017

...our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU'RE FIRED. Find something else to do!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017

San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York weighed in Saturday afternoon, called the presiden'ts comments "callous and offensive" and "contradictory to this great country stands for"

pic.twitter.com/nrx16iBlkw

— Jed York (@JedYork) September 23, 2017

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross did not refer to the president directly, but said in a statement the country "needs unifying leadership right now, not more divisiveness."

Statement from Miami Dolphins Owner and Founder of Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) Stephen Ross. pic.twitter.com/6W3mXwJO6M

— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) September 23, 2017

Reaction to Trump's comments on social media by players were largely negative:

Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall

Wow https://t.co/enJBSLTTtY

— Brandon Marshall (@BMarshh54) September 23, 2017

Lions tight end Eric Ebron

Does anyone tell trump to stick to politics, like they tell us to stick to sports? Smh.

— Eric Ebron (@Ebron85) September 23, 2017

Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis

Trump!! 😔😔😔😔😔😔😔

— Thomas Davis (@ThomasDavisSDTM) September 23, 2017

Redskins linebacker Zach Brown

Trump stay in ur place... football have nothing to do wit u smh

— Zach Brown (@ZachBrown_55) September 23, 2017

Titans wide receiver Rishard Matthews (a college teammate of Kaepernick)

I'm a full supporter of the Flag & This country! Trust Me! But this can't be real! https://t.co/GAPkZPB8hz

— Rishard Matthews (@_RMatthews) September 23, 2017

Buccaneers safety T.J. Ward

Smh! Gives more reason https://t.co/TyVCJgQK0L

— T.J. Ward (@BossWard43) September 23, 2017

Vikings running back Bishop Sankey

It's a shame and disgrace when you have the President of the US calling citizens of the country sons of a bitches.

— Bishop Sankey (@BishopSankey) September 23, 2017

Former Texans running back Arian Foster

cloth has more value than people. apparently. https://t.co/PZjeRA9861

— feeno (@ArianFoster) September 23, 2017

Kaepernick did not respond to the Trump's comments in the hours following the speech by Trump.

Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett recently reignited the debate when he criticized Las Vegas police for racial profiling following an accidental arrest last month.

Bennett was detained by police outside a Las Vegas casino on Aug. 27 after police responded to a report of gunfire in the area. Video obtained by TMZ of the incident shows an officer yelling at Bennett and pointing his gun at him while he is handcuffed. He was later let go by police.

Bennett has begun sitting on the bench during the national anthem in protest of police violence.

President Trump is no stranger to the National Football League. In February, he was seen dining with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, and in January just before his inauguration, the president singled out Kraft at a dinner.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Here are the latest scores and winners:

INTERLEAGUE
Boston 5, Cincinnati 0

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Houston 6, L.A. Angels 2
N.Y. Yankees 5, Toronto 1
Cleveland 11, Seattle 4
Minnesota 10, Detroit 4
Tampa Bay 9, Baltimore 6
Kansas City 8, Chicago White Sox 2
Oakland 1, Texas 0

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Milwaukee 4, Chicago Cubs 3, 10 Innings
Pittsburgh 11, St. Louis 6
Washington 4, N.Y. Mets 3, 10 Innings
Atlanta 4, Philadelphia 2
Miami 12, Arizona 6
San Diego 5, Colorado 0
San Francisco 2, L.A. Dodgers 1

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE PRESEASON
L.A. Kings 4, Vancouver 3
Minnesota 2, Colorado 1
New Jersey 2, N.Y. Rangers 1
Detroit 5, Boston 1
Carolina 4, Washington 1
Toronto 3, Buffalo 1
Ottawa 5, Montreal 1
Dallas 4, St. Louis 0
Columbus 3, Chicago 2
Edmonton 6, Winnipeg 2
San Jose 5, Arizona 4

TOP 25 COLLEGE FOOTBALL
(1) Alabama 59, Vanderbilt 0
(2) Clemson 34, Boston 7
(3) Oklahoma 49, Baylor 41
(4) Penn St. 21, Iowa 19
(5) Southern Cal, 30 California 20
(16) TCU 44, (6) Oklahoma St. 31
(7) Washington 37, Colorado 10
(8) Michigan 28, Purdue 10
(10) Ohio St. 54, UNLV 21
(11) Georgia 31, (17) Mississippi St. 3
NC State 27, (12) Florida St. 21
(13) Virginia Tech 38, Old Dominion 0
(14) Miami 52, Toledo 30
(15) Auburn 51, Missouri 14
(18) Washington St. 45, Nevada 7
(19) Louisville 42, Kent St. 3
(20) Florida 28, Kentucky 27
(22) San Diego St. 28, Air Force 24
Arizona St. 37, (24) Oregon 35
(25) LSU 35, Syracuse 26

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iStock/Thinkstock(OAKLAND, Calif.) --  Bruce Maxwell of the Oakland Athletics has become the first Major League Baseball player to kneel during the national anthem.

Maxwell commented about President Trump's comments regarding NFL players kneeling for the anthem on Twitter Saturday, then acted on it in his game against the Texas Rangers that night. 

Don't be surprised if you start seeing athletes kneeling in other sports now!! Comments like that coming from our president. WOW! ✊🏽✊🏽✊🏽

— Bruce T Maxwell (@bruu_truu13) September 23, 2017

Maxwell dropped to a knee just outside Oakland's dugout on Saturday, adopting a protest started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in response to police treatment of blacks. Maxwell's teammates stood in a line next to him. Teammate Mark Canha, who is white, put his right hand on one of Maxwell's shoulders.

The Athletics released a statement on Twitter shortly after the anthem, saying they "respect and support all of our players' constitutional rights and freedom of expression."

pic.twitter.com/EHXwg8Zpax

— Oakland A's 🌳🐘⚾️ (@Athletics) September 24, 2017

Maxwell's protest comes after President Donald Trump denounced protests by NFL players and rescinded a White House invitation for NBA champion Stephen Curry in a two-day rant that targeted top professional athletes.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Here are the latest scores and winners:

INTERLEAGUE
Boston 5, Cincinnati 4

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Tampa Bay 8, Baltimore 3
Toronto 8, N.Y. Yankees 1
Minnesota 7, Detroit 3
Chicago White Sox 7, Kansas City 6
Houston 3, L.A. Angels 0
Oakland 4, Texas 1
Seattle 3, Cleveland 1

NATIONAL LEAGUE
St. Louis 4, Pittsburgh 3
N.Y. Mets 7, Washington 6
Atlanta 7, Philadelphia 2
Chicago Cubs 5, Milwaukee 4, 10 Innings
Arizona 13, Miami 11
L.A. Dodgers 4, San Francisco 2
Colorado 4, San Diego 1

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE PRESEASON

Pittsburgh 4, Columbus 3
St. Louis 4, Washington 0
N.Y. Islanders 2, N.Y. Rangers 1
Toronto 3, Buffalo 0
Tampa Bay 3, Nashville 1
Calgary 4, Arizona 2
Edmonton 5, Vancouver 3
Anaheim 4, L.A. Kings 2

TOP 25 COLLEGE FOOTBALL
(23) Utah 30, Arizona 24

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Boston Globe/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez’s April suicide marked the last chapter in a dramatic fall from superstardom into a life of violence and incarceration. Now, findings from an autopsy on his 27-year-old brain have some asking whether his football career – and specifically, the blows to the head he received on the field – could be at least partly to blame.

The findings, released Thursday, indicate chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) – a condition that is the result of repeated head trauma. In recent years, research has uncovered evidence of a connection between CTE and certain contact sports, most notably professional football. A growing number of former NFL players and their families have come forward, describing the onset of psychiatric conditions and behavior changes believed to be linked to CTE.

But as to whether CTE was to blame in any way for Hernandez’s murder conviction, and later his suicide in prison, experts are split.

“The brain lesions noted on autopsy could be compatible with the psychiatric features, although the mechanism is unknown,” said Dr. Luca Giliberto of the Litwin-Zucker Research Center for Alzheimer's Disease and Memory Disorders at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, New York.

Even though the exact way CTE affects the likelihood of violent behavior is still a mystery, he believes a connection is, at least, possible.

“All data and evidence show that the risk is real,” Giliberto said. “We cannot hide our heads in the sand when we see these cases and say, ‘maybe not.’ If we keep hiding we will keep collecting more cases like Hernandez.”

Others, however, were more skeptical that enough evidence exists to blame violent behavior on CTE.

“Even though there has been speculation about behavioral changes due to CTE, no one has proven any correlation,” said Dr. Anthony G. Alessi, associate clinical professor of neurology and orthopedics at UConn Health. “This is where science breaks down and litigation comes into action.”

Indeed, most in the field agree that the research is only in its very early phases. The largest study so far on CTE in former NFL players, conducted at Boston University, involves the brains of just 111 such athletes. In all of these cases, the athletes themselves or their families volunteered the brains for study after these players had died. While the findings thus far have been revealing – 110 of the 111 brains studied showed evidence of CTE – they are not representative of all professional players in the sport. This means that researchers do not yet know how prevalent this condition is among all players on the professional level, much less among the millions of others who play or have played at the college and high school levels. Nor can these findings provide solid answers yet on the connection between CTE and behavior.

Where both Giliberto and Alessi agree is that sports in which head collisions are common definitely put players at risk of brain trauma and CTE. And they warn that the damage can start early.

“Around a six and half million young Americans are involved in some kind of youth sports associated with a high risk of collision damage to the brain,” Alessi said.

Of particular concern is repeated head trauma before the age of 13, while the brain is still maturing, he said. This can have dangerous future consequences, he noted.

Giliberto noted that entities like the NFL should also take steps to talk openly about the topic, as well as to step up and provide data needed to take advantage of the millions of dollars invested on research in this topic.

“The phenomenon of CTE has been there since times of gladiators,” Giliberto said. “It was just that we never looked at it and admitted that it existed.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Philadelphia Phillies legend Mike Schmidt beat cancer and is sharing his story with the hope of inspiring others.

The baseball Hall of Famer was diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma in 2013, undergoing surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation. Today, he is cancer-free.

Schmidt partnered with the pharmaceutical company Merck and Your Cancer Game Plan to provide people with tools and resources to fight their personal cancer battles.

ABC News recently spoke with Schmidt about his new partnership. He offered tips on how others can work through the disease, and what he learned from his experience.

Schmidt's first tip for those battling cancer is to form a team. He tells ABC News, "Let people into your life... they're good cures for something like we're going through."

Starting with his family, he formulated a team for emotional support. He also researched what melanoma is and how it is treated, better understanding his disease and staying in constant communication with his doctors. Even today, cancer-free, Schmidt speaks with his doctors on a consistent basis.

Schmidt now advocates for consistent and open communication with family members and medical professionals. He tells ABC News, "Team has always been a great thing to me... you have more people trying to reach one conclusion. One goal."

Receiving so much support from his family reminded Schmidt of the power of positive thinking, and recommends others who were recently diagnosed or have cancer to find positive people in their lives for support.

As he gained a better understanding of melanoma through his relationships with his medical team, Schmidt focused on his diet and eating more nutritious foods. Along with positive thinking, he learned how the food and others put in their bodies can make a difference in their health.

Facing the prospect of possibly saying goodbye to his wife and daughter, Schmidt's faith served as a pillar of support as he battled cancer. He would ask himself the question, "Are you gonna make it?"

Fear settled in with both him and his family.

To this day, he still relies on his faith because he faces the possibility of the cancer returning.

For Schmidt, prayer and a reliance on faith was a personal choice. His hope is those fighting cancer turn to faith in whoever or whatever they believe in, but recommends people find grounding and support in any form that is positive and makes them comfortable.

Schmidt shares his own story and talks about the strategies that helped him beat cancer on www.yourcancergameplan.com.

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ABC News(LOS ANGELES) -- A blind football player at the University of Southern California (USC) helped lead his team to victory earlier this month, and now he’s opening up about his remarkable story.

Jake Olson, 20, the team's long snapper, made his debut as a Trojan in a game against Western Michigan University.

Late in the fourth quarter, Olson snapped for an extra point. The Trojans won the game 49-31.

"It was emotional," Olson said Friday on Good Morning America.

He added, "Just the pure bliss and just knowing that I accomplished a goal. I was able to give Trojan nation and, really, the entire sports world a message of inspiration and hope."

Olson, now a junior at USC, was diagnosed with retinoblastoma when he was 1 year old and lost one of his eyes. The cancer came back eight times.

In 2009, at the age of 12, doctors told Olson he would lose his other eye.

Before he completely lost his vision at age 12, Jake told his parents that he wanted to see one last USC Trojans game. His wish reached then-Trojan head coach Pete Carroll, and Olson became a part of the Trojans family long before he joined the team.

Olson set a mission to play on his high school football team and tried out in his junior year at Lutheran High School of Orange County.

"I wanted to be out there so badly, and so I started thinking what position could I play that wouldn't require me to have sight," he said. "And then came upon long snapper. I was like, 'Whoa, okay, yeah, it's all feel.'"

After relentless practice, Olson landed a spot on the team.

His teammates supported him by clapping to let Olson know the distance of the snap, and then tapping on his leg to let him know when he could snap.

Olson walked on the USC team in 2015 as a freshman.

He is also the author of a book about his experience, Open Your Eyes to a Happier Life.


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