NFL Week 3 Defined by Pregame Statements: Despite Unbelievable Games, National Anthem Main Focus

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Players and owners across the National Football League took front stage to show their disapproval over President Trump’s latest divisive comments. Several teams chose to stay in their locker rooms for the national anthem. 

Matt Gentile, Assistant National Sports Editor

Looking back at Week 3 in the NFL, there was plenty of drama on the field but the most significant storylines did not occur between the whistles. The scores of games this early in the season may lose their significance over the next 15 weeks. However, the news spurred by President Trump’s tweets in regard to national anthem protest and the ensuing actions of NFL players certainly will not. 

On Saturday, September 23 President Trump chimed in on NFL players kneeling or raising fists as an act of protest during the national anthem before their games. He tweeted, “If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect … our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!” A series of other tweets followed, echoing his disappointment with the acts of protest; these tweets proceeded to call on the NFL owners and NFL Commissioner to silence the players’ right to protest. 

NFL players responded strongly on Sunday, as the public’s attention was focused on the pregame actions as much as the competition after kickoff. The most noteworthy moment came from the Steelers game, when the entire team stayed in the locker room for the national anthem with the exception of army veteran offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva. Other teams displayed united protests by locking arms, kneeling on the sideline or raising fists during the pregame anthem.

On the field, it was still an exciting week. The anticipated game in London turned out to be a blowout as the Jaguars routed the Ravens 44-7. 

The Patriots rallied on their last drive to pull off a tight comeback victory, 36-33, over the Texans. Tom Brady finished with 378 passing yards and 5 touchdowns. The New York Giants fell to 0-3 as their 4th quarter rally was halted by the

Philadelphia Eagles by a score of 27-24. Both quarterbacks struggled as the second-year starter Carson Wentz threw for only 178 yards and Eli Manning recorded two crucial interceptions. The 49ers also fell to 0-3 start as they were narrowly defeated by the Los Angeles Rams 41-39 on Thursday night. 

The New York Jets captured their first win over their divisional foe the Miami Dolphins. Finally, both the Chiefs and the Falcons extended their strong starts to 3-0 by defeating the Chargers and Lions respectively. 

While the results are clearly important for the standings and future playoff runs to come, they are not the most important takeaway from Week 3. 

The tension generated this weekend made the NFL anthem protests a top news story and trending topic in conversations around the country. 

Contact Matt Gentile at [email protected]