US Vice President Mike Pence walks out of NFL game during player protest

by October 9th, 2017

Politics was once again at the forefront in the NFL with US vice-president Mike Pence walking out of the week five contest between the San Francisco 49ers and Indianapolis Colts after several players from the visiting 49ers refused to stand for the US national anthem.

The 49ers, for the second week in a row, had more than 20 players kneeling during the anthem with their hands over their hearts. Teammates stood behind the kneeling players with one hand on a kneeling teammate’s shoulder and the other over their hearts.

The Colts wore black T-shirts with the words “We Will” on the front and “Stand for equality, justice, unity, respect, dialogue, opportunity” on the back for the second straight week. The players stood with their arms locked during the anthem.

The former governor of Indiana had been in attendance as part of the celebration of Peyton Manning and his jersey retirement and induction into the Colts’ Ring of Honor.

Pence tweeted a statement in which he said he would not dignify any event that disrespects soldiers, the flag or the anthem.

49ers safety Eric Reid said he believed Pence’s actions were premeditated.

“First of all, does anyone know the last time he’s been to a football game?” Reid said after the game. “OK, with that being said, he tweeted out a 3-year-old photo of him at a Colts game. So with the information that I have, the last time he’s been to a football game is three years ago. So this looks like a PR stunt to me.

“He knew our team has had the most players protest. He knew that we were probably going to do it again. This is what systemic oppression looks like. A man with power comes to the game, tweets a couple things out and leaves the game in an attempt to thwart our efforts. Based on the information I have, that’s the assumption I made.”

Indianapolis in the meantime posted a 26-23 win to improve to 2-3 while the 49ers dropped to 0-5 to remain one of three teams along with the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns who are yet to win a game this season.