A Cleveland Browns fan holds up a flag during a salute to the armed forces in the second quarter of the Browns game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at First Energy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio September 10, 2017. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo
INDIANAPOLIS -- In protest of President Donald Trump's criticism of NFL players' kneeling during the national anthem, the Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts reacted Sunday during the pregame anthem.
Some Browns players knelt while others stood with locked arms. While no Colts players took a knee, most locked arms.
The player display was met by a chorus of boos from the stands. Widely known as a Republican state -- Vice President Mike Pence is Indiana's former governor -- the fan reaction was not surprising.
On Friday, Colts owner Jim Irsay issued a strong statement condemning Trump's statements about what the president views as unpatriotic displays by some NFL players, including unsigned quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who kneed during the anthem last season.
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam released a statement before Sunday's game.
"We view our organization, our league and our players as great unifiers of people," Jimmy and Dee Haslam said in their joint statement. "Our players, just like so many others across our league, have been honest and thoughtful with their attempt to bring awareness to the issues of inequality and social injustice. We were incredibly moved by the meaningful and powerful dialogue they initiated within our organization when they spoke of their intent to unify and not be disrespectful while using familiar and important terms like one nation, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. Their intent is to create positive and unifying change and that was demonstrated well by the unity they led prior to our home opener. They have continued to prove this dedication to unite diverse members of our community throughout this past month by establishing direct conversation with the Cleveland Police Department and creating a plan to work together in our neighborhoods. We are also proud of their many other significant efforts in our city throughout the year that are done quietly to improve the lives of others.
"We must not let misguided, uninformed and divisive comments from the President or anyone else deter us from our efforts to unify. Our stance in support of the liberties of peaceful, personal expression afforded to our players and all Americans will remain strong, and we will continue to encourage our players to respectfully use their earned platform to inspire positive change in our nation and throughout society."