Football fans around Portland had strong opinions Sunday following many NFL players' decisions to stand, kneel or stay in the locker room during the national anthem.
Both the Seattle Seahawks and the Tennessee Titans were in the locker room during the anthem Sunday, following the lead of the Pittsburgh Steelers who also remained in the locker room during the Star Spangled Banner.
One player for the Steelers, left tackle and U.S. Army veteran Alejandro Villanueva, stood in the tunnel with his hand over his heart.
In total, more than 200 players sat, knelt or showed some other form of protest during Sunday’s games, up from six the week before.
NFL fans who were already fired up for football on Sunday had much to say about the controversy.
FOX 12 stopped at Fields Bar in the Pearl district where some fans supported the athlete's choice to take a stand.
A woman named Sheila, who said she has been a sports fan her whole life, told FOX 12 it was the player’s right to protest.
“I think its freedom of speech,” she said. “If they want to take a knee, they’re allowed to take a knee.”
Across town at Sports on Tap, life-long Cowboys fan Steve McKinney, disagreed.
"If they have issues, they need to bring those up outside of the game," he said. “They want to stand out, they want to be different, they want to be noticed instead of going, 'You know what, I make millions of dollars to play a game. I need to shut my mouth and I need to play my game, anything I do outside of that, off of the field, out of uniform, is fine,’ but there will always be repercussions because people will not agree with you."
Washington Redskins fan Tim Levier had a different take on the controversy, saying the focus should be on why the players were kneeling.
Levier said he doesn't see a problem with how players protest because it's non-violent. By the same token, he said if these players want to make a big change, taking a knee to take a stand will only go so far.
“The only way that any type of change is going to happen is if the players refuse to play. As long as we’re just doing this, that doesn’t do anything,” he said. “When you do action and say, ‘OK, instead of kneeling we’re just not going to play,’ and it hits people in their pocketbook, that's when people say, ‘Hey, you’re affecting my bottom line now.’”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement saying the NFL is at their best when they help create a sense of community. He went on to say divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL and its players.
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