PRESIDENT TRUMP touched off a MASSIVE national anthem protest at NFL games around the country yesterday, by complaining about it during a rally Friday night.

Trump was campaigning for a Senate candidate in Alabama, when for some reason, he tossed this into his speech . . . quote, "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitches off the field right now.  Out!  He's fired.  He's fired!'"

 NOBODY IN THE NFL agreed with Trump.

Commissioner Roger Goodell called Trump's comments "divisive", and the players union defended the protests as peaceful expressions and protected speech.

And since COLIN KAEPERNICK is basically Ground Zero for this issue, his mom took Trump's words personally, Tweeting, quote, "Guess that makes me a proud [B-word].'"

Even NFL owners were issuing statements defending their players' rights to protest.  And that included Trump's friend and supporter ROBERT KRAFT . . . who owns the Patriots.

He said he was "deeply disappointed" by Trump's statement, and supports the players' right to, quote, "peacefully affect social change and raise awareness in a manner that they feel is most impactful." 

Fast forward to Sunday, and the protests were more widespread than ever.  A lot of players either knelt during the anthem, or stood with their arms locked together. 

Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shadid Khan even came down to the field to lock arms with his players during the NFL's annual game in London.  On the other side of the field, Ravens coach John Harbaugh did the same.

Members of the Miami Dolphins wore "I'm with Kap" t-shirts during pregame warmups. 

And LeSean Mccoy of the Buffalo Bills did his stretching during the anthem.

 Some teams didn't even take the field until the song was over.  That included the Pittsburgh Steelers, who decided not to become part of the controversy.

Coach Mike Tomlin said, quote, "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."

But Steelers offensive tackle Al Villanueva came out of the tunnel to stand for the anthem.  He served three tours in Afghanistan as an Army Ranger.

And NEITHER team took the field during the anthem at the Seahawks / Titans game.  Meghan Linsey from "The Voice" sang the anthem at that game, and she took a knee when she was done.  

Rico LaVelle also took a knee after singing the national anthem at the Lions / Falcons game.

Tom Brady went with a half-and-half thing.  He had his right hand over his heart, but to his left, he locked arms with receiver Phillip Dorsett.  He said he wanted to show love for his teammates, but other than that, he refused to talk about it.

Aaron Rodgers Tweeted a picture of himself kneeling with some teammates, with the hashtags "unity", "brotherhood", "family", "dedication", and "love".  And broadcasters Howie Long and Chris Collinsworth stuck up for the players, too.

The protest even spread outside the NFL. 

Oakland A's catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first Major League Baseball player to kneel.  Although he kept his hand on his heart to symbolize that, quote, "I'll forever be an American citizen, and I'm more than grateful to be here."

At Game 1 of the WNBA Finals, the Los Angeles Sparks left the court during the anthem, while the Minnesota Lynx locked arms.

And STEVIE WONDER took BOTH KNEES during his set at the Global Citizen Festival.

But then there's NASCAR.  At yesterday's ISM Connect 300 in New Hampshire, NOBODY took a knee.  And Richard Petty said he'd fire anyone on his team who did.

Trump was still Tweeting about football on Sunday.  He said, quote, "Great solidarity for our National Anthem and for our Country.  Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable.  Bad ratings!"



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