Broncos react to Trump's NFL remarks after he said players should be fired for kneeling in protest

Posted at 6:44 PM, Sep 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-24 13:11:04-04

DENVER – It wasn't just the Cavs’ LeBron James, former NBA star Kobe Bryant, or Chris Paul of the Houston Rockets who spent time Saturday decrying some controversial remarks made by President Donald Trump over the weekend.

Several Broncos players also took to social media on Saturday and joined the pool of emotional response around the league after the president said NFL players should be fired for kneeling during the national anthem.

“When I hear the anthem it’s not the words that make me feel like an American. It’s us as people for one moment feeling united standing Together. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize we are kneeling because we need everyone’s focus and eyes so that we can work for A change. We have your attention now. Time to start opening your eyes so that we can change and have all people proudly stand for our Country,” said Denver Broncos linebacker Shane Ray in a tweetstorm.

Broncos guard Max Garcia chimed in by asking, “where was this passion in response to Charlottesville…”

And wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders flat out told the president he was “acting and speaking like a child.”

Brandon Marshall, who took a knee during the national anthem for eight games last season, only quipped with a “Wow” after hearing the president’s words.

The remarks, made during a Trump rally for Alabama Senator Luther Strange on Friday evening, haven’t only been denounced by the players themselves but have been condemned by owners, presidents, coaches, general managers and the NFL Commissioner, who slammed the president and called his comments “divisive,” adding he showed “a lack of respect” for the league and its players.

During the rally on Friday night, Trump remarked that if fans would "leave the stadium" when players kneel in protest during the national anthem, "I guarantee, things will stop."

Trump also said NFL owners should respond to the players by saying, "Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he's fired. He's fired!"

"For a week, (that owner would) be the most popular person in this country. Because that's a total disrespect of our heritage. That's a total disrespect for everything we stand for," Trump said.

On Saturday, Trump did not budge and said players should “find something else to do” if they wanted to exercise their First Amendment rights.

But even Broncos President and CEO Joe Ellis stood behind his players in a statement after the president's remarks. 

"Our players have shown a tremendous commitment to raising awareness for important societal issues by using their platform in a positive way.

"In addition to their hard work off the field, we have great admiration for their dedication to making our team the absolute best it can be. They've made incredible sacrifices to reach this level, and we recognize they give their all to our team and fans each and every day.

"As an organization, we could not be more proud, appreciative and grateful for our players. We'll continue to support them and work together to advocate for values of respect, diversity and inclusion."

Last year, Colin Kaepernick – who was with the San Francisco 49ers, but who is currently without a team -- drew national media attention for refusing to stand during "The Star-Spangled Banner" prior to kickoff, spurring both support and backlash from players and fans alike.

At Friday's rally, Trump also took aim at NFL efforts to prevent concussions. "They're ruining the game, right?" he said. "They're ruining the game."

The Saturday backlash came after Trump tweeted early in the morning that he would withdraw his invitation to invite two-time NBA MVP Golden State Warriors player Stephen Curry to the White House after “hesitating” to make the champions’ trip to Washington, D.C.

Curry said Friday he did not want to make such a visit.

“By acting and not going, hopefully that will inspire some change when it comes to what we tolerate in this country and what is accepted and what we turn a blind eye to,” Curry said Friday at the Warriors’ media day. “It’s not just the act of not going. There are things you have to do on the back end to actually push that message into motion.”