Vikings owners, fans support players’ right to express themselves

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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (WCCO) - The NFL had major reaction on Sunday to comments President Donald Trump made Friday suggesting players who don’t stand for the national anthem should be fired.

Several coaches and owners have spoken out against the President’s comments. Some players choose to kneel during the anthem, just like Colin Kaepernick did last season.

The Steelers team did not come out for the anthem. Coach Mike Tomlin decided to keep the team in the locker room. He said it was not out of disrespect, but to keep the team unified.

Some teams linked arms. That’s what we saw from the Minnesota Vikings.

It was a clear win for the Vikings, beating Tampa Bay 34-17. But before kickoff, another storyline began to unfold. A rally in front of U.S. Bank Stadium was organized to support players who take a knee.

Coyrdon Nilsson was there.

“I’m out here to support Colin Kaepernick and every other player in the NFL who would like to express their First Amendment right to protest the injustice they see going on,” Nilsson said.

It was a local version of a national rally in support of players who take a knee. Shortly after they made their stance, the Vikings made theirs. Team members stayed on their feet, but linked their arms in what appeared to be a statement of unity.

Vikings fan Kyle Kozelka from Owatonna said, “I feel like it’s more respectful than kneeling.”

Eric Wobschall, also from Owatonna said, “They’re gonna stand arm and arm, they’re gonna stand up for each other, they’re one team, they understand, they’re all together.”

Most of the crowd stood as the anthem was played, some saying kneeling by other teams is disrespectful. Others saying it’s the player’s prerogative. Vikings fan Omar Jiru of St, Paul said, “People have their opinion, First Amendment right. Players have the right to express their opinion. Based on what I’ve seen, I’ve talked to a couple of people who say it’s up to the players. We came here to watch the game so I’m not surprised either way.”

The Vikings owners released a statement shortly after the anthem, saying in part,

“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.”