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'We Just Wanted Unity': Christians in the NFL Take a Stand as Backlash Engulfs the League

09-26-2017
Benjamin Watson AP
Benjamin Watson AP

The controversy surrounding NFL protests -- inflamed by comments from President Trump -- is spreading beyond the football field.

Friday, the president called on NFL team owners to fire any player who kneels during the national anthem in protest of police brutality against people of color.

While more than 200 players in the NFL have decided to kneel in protest during the national anthem, angry fans are resorting to burning their jerseys. 

"For as long as I can remember, I've been a Steelers fan," says one woman standing in her backyard in a YouTube video.  

She goes on to say, "From now on I'm done with the Steelers. I stood with you guys, I fought with for guys. I argued for you guys living in Maryland and this is what I get in return," as she rips off her Steelers t-shirt and reveals a Trump t-shirt.

The woman then proceeds to set flame to Pittsburgh Steelers memorabilia.

A man on Facebook burned his Steelers leather jacket, hats, and sweaters.

"You do not disrespect the flag and the country and the Constitution and why we are here and why we have our freedoms," he says in a video posted on The Rockabillly Facebook page.

Some Christians in the league are urging unity and healing in light of the heated debate.

Kirk Cousins of the Washington Redskins locked arms Sunday with his teammates during the anthem before the game against the Oakland Raiders.

"We just wanted unity," said Cousins.

He added, "I'm tired of the division going on in the country and we just wanted unity and I felt that locking arms was the way to bring some unity."  

Baltimore Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson also chose to stand with fellow team members while pointing heavenward.

"I also pointed to the skies just because I really believe that the Lord will really have to have His hand on us when it comes to reconciling our differences," Watson said in an interview with Good Morning America.

He admitted that he would not have knelt with Colin Kepernick last year, but he supports his reasons for doing so. 

"I support him in what he decided to do," said Watson.

"I haven't kneeled, but the reasons why he kneeled, the police brutality, the excessive force, and as he said, the oppression of different people of color, those are all concerns of mine and have been since before Colin decided to kneel, and have been for a lot of other people in our country as well."

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr stood and prayed while other teammates protested by kneeling during the national anthem.

He was asked about his decision.

"Basically came down to show people we're unified and show people we love one another. Obviously some guys stood and we wanted to make sure we were together, whether you agree or disagree. From the outside looking in, for standing or sitting or whatever, we all love one another, whether one guy sits or one guy stands.

I don't have the answers, but I know everyday I just go out and love people. There's not any person that I don't love. Some people may get under my skin a little bit but I still love them."

Christians off the field are also weighing in.

Grammy nominated recording artist and former American Idol Winner Jordin Sparks sang the National Anthem before the game between the Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys.

During her performance, Sparks had Proverbs 31:8-9 written on her left hand which reads, "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves for the rights of all who are destitute.  Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."

Her boyfriend praised her in an Instagram post saying, "Way to use your platform babe! 

Rapper Lecrae retweeted  a picture of Sparks and the scripture on her hand.

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