United States Vice President Mike Pence left the Indianapolis Colts vs. San Francisco 49ers game early after he witnessed players protesting the national anthem. Eleven 49ers kneeled on Sunday with another teammate’s hand on the kneeling player’s shoulder for support. San Fransisco has probably been the team with the most players consistently participating in the national anthem protests this season. The protest gained attention last August when then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was spotted sitting during the anthem.
In a series of tweets explaining his early exit, Pence said in an official statement that he believes this is a time in the country to respect the American flag.
Majority of the athletes who have been asked about why they chose to protest the anthem have said that their intentions are not to disrespect the flag or the military, but to raise awareness for the injustices in the country.
“This country stands for freedom, liberty, and justice for all,” Kaepernick said when he was first asked about his protest. “And it’s not happening for all right now.”
One year after taking his stand, Kaepernick, a top-30 quarterback in the NFL, can’t sign a contract with any team as even just a backup.
The former Indiana Governor Pence said that he originally attended the Colts game to watch the team’s honoring of former quarterback Peyton Manning. Manning gave the Colts the franchise’s second-ever championship in the 2006-07 season. He also set the single-season record for touchdowns with 49 in 2004, a record that he eventually eclipsed in 2013 as a member of the Denver Broncos.
Many fans have decided before the season to boycott the NFL until Kaepernick signs to a team and many conservative fans have decided to boycott the NFL because many players are choosing to protest the national anthem. About 70 percent of the players in the NFL are Black and roughly 83 percent of their fan bases are White. Police have killed 210 Black people this year, according to mapping police violence.
Pence has since changed his cover photo on Twitter to a picture of him standing up with his hand over his heart at a Colts game.