NFL Players Association affirms support of peaceful protests after Pence walkout
© Greg Nash

The NFL Players Association released a statement in support of players' constitutional rights to "peacefully raise awareness" after Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PencePence urges Venezuelans to back opposition leader ahead of anti-government protests Mueller coverage keeps missing its mark, as BuzzFeed debacle shows Obama puts out call for service on MLK Day: ‘Make a positive impact on the world’ MORE walked out of a NFL game Sunday over players kneeling during the national anthem.

“Our men and their families are also conscientious Americans who continue to be forces for good through our communities and some have decided to use their platform to peacefully raise awareness to issues that deserve attention,” the statement read.

ADVERTISEMENT

“It is a source of enormous pride that some of the best conversations about these issues have taken place in our locker rooms in a respectful, civil and thoughtful way that should serve as a model for how all of us can communicate with each other.

“We should not stifle these discussions and cannot allow our rights to become subservient to the very opinions our Constitution protects. That is what makes us the land of the free and home of the brave.”

Pence briefly attended an Indianapolis Colts game on Sunday before walking out after several San Francisco 49ers kneeled during the national anthem.

Pence said he walked out because he “will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.”

President Trump later tweeted that he had asked Pence to leave the game if he saw any players kneel during the anthem.

Pence has been criticized for the move, with one Indianapolis sports columnist accusing him of staging a political stunt.

49ers safety Eric Reid similarly blasted Pence, calling him walking out a “PR stunt.”

“This is what systemic oppression looks like. A man with power comes to the game, tweets a couple of things out and leaves the game with an attempt to thwart our efforts,” Reid said.

Trump set off a firestorm last month when he attacked players who kneel during the national anthem, calling for people to walk out of games if they saw the demonstrations and for NFL owners to fire any participating players.

NFL free agent Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the anthem to protest racial inequality last season.