NFL players are planning an across-the-league protest Sunday after President Donald Trump used Twitter to attack professional athletes during the national anthem.
But the demonstrations took a weird turn early Sunday, when the Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens, who are playing an NFL "exchange" game in the U.K., linked arms to protest the Star Spangled Banner — but stood during God Save the Queen.
Most Ravens and Jaguars players took a knee during the national anthem, and those that did not, stood arm-in-arm in a show of team unity. Both teams tweeted support for protesting players, explaining that they were behind their athletes "100%."
Statement from Owner Steve Bisciotti. pic.twitter.com/bdKWJ4UpCy— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) September 24, 2017
But as the Star Spangled Banner came to a close, players stood up and remained standing as the U.K.'s national anthem, God Save the Queen, played.
They may not have realized it, but the protesting players stood to honor a foreign government, while protesting their own president, thousands of miles away from the United States. Even stranger, they stood for a national anthem honoring a country that once colonized their own, ostensibly pledging allegiance to a foreign head of state.
The gesture did not go unnoticed:
Here are the Jaguars and Ravens sidelines during the national anthem.— SB Nation (@SBNation) September 24, 2017
They stood during "God Save the Queen." pic.twitter.com/QwhmYez5XM
That changes both the protest's tenor and purpose — and seems to indicate that the NFL players may not even have been aware of the "controversial" history they claim to be demonstrating against.
President Trump kicked off an NFL "protest weekend," expressing his frustration over kneeling NFL players at both a rally on Friday and on Twitter Saturday. In response, NFL teams — and NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell — expressed support for protesting athletes, and teams across the country planned their own demonstrations of unity for Sunday games. Some teams locked arms, others stayed in the locker room during the national anthem, refusing to be drawn into political conflict.