The NFL Players Association backed its athletes’ right to protest during the national anthem after Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday walked out of a game over players taking a knee. The group called it “a source of enormous” pride to have its athletes using “their platform to peacefully raise awareness to issues that deserve attention” in a statement Sunday evening. “We should not stifle these discussions and cannot allow our rights to become subservient to the very opinions our Constitution protects.” President Trump had earlier said he was “proud” of Pence for walking out of the Colts game against the 49ers, claiming the kneeling protesters were “disrespecting our country.” The walkout, which appeared to have been pre-planned, was dismissed as a “PR stunt” by Eric Reid, the 49ers safety who kneeled alongside former quarterback Colin Kaepernick to protest police brutality and racism last year. “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.
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