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Rams

Rams react to Trump’s comments that players should be fired for kneeling during anthem

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Rams coach Sean McVay celebrates a touchdown with receiver Sammy Watkins during a game against the 49ers on Sept. 21.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The Rams are off this weekend, but a few players and owner Stan Kroenke reacted in both emotional and measured ways to President Trump’s controversial comments regarding protests by NFL players.

Trump said Friday that team owners should fire players for kneeling during the national anthem. His comments caused a wave of negative reaction throughout the league, including unified gestures by entire teams on Sunday.

Kroenke donated $1 million to the Republican National Committee toward Trump’s inauguration.

On Sunday, Kroenke issued a statement that supported players’ freedom to protest. He did not mention the president or his comments.

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“The Los Angeles Rams, our fan base and our city are all comprised of people from a variety of backgrounds and beliefs. When we recognize that this diversity is our strength and seek to understand different perspectives, we are more enlightened and empathetic human beings. Our organization is committed to celebrating diversity, inclusion and respect, values that help define Los Angeles. We are proud of the work that our players and all NFL players do to make our communities better places to live. We believe in the tenets of the national anthem, which is a pillar of this country; just as freedom of speech is another pillar and a constitutional right. We will continue to support our players’ freedom to peacefully express themselves and the meaningful efforts they make to bring about positive change in our country.”

Rams defensive end Robert Quinn has raised his fist during the national anthem since last season. Recently, punter Johnny Hekker has put his arm around Quinn to show support.

Quinn has not commented on social media in regard to Trump’s comments but did retweet Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, who wrote, “The behavior of the President is unacceptable and needs to be addressed. If you do not Condemn this divisive Rhetoric you are Condoning it!!”

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Rams linebacker Connor Barwin on Saturday tweeted:

“The constitution guarantees our right to individual opinions. The flag, the National Anthem, represent and celebrate that freedom. We do not live in a country run by a totalitarian government where peacefully sharing opinions WILL get one fired or thrown in jail. We need to celebrate and protect that freedom. If our president doesn’t understand this most important truth, it’s even more important that we do.”

Rams offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth tweeted on Saturday:

“Try to divide and you may just unify!”

The Rams are scheduled to resume practice on Monday in preparation for Sunday’s game at Dallas.

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gary.klein@latimes.com

Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein


UPDATES:

2:51 p.m.: A correction was made to this article noting that Stan Kroenke’s $1 million dollar donation went to the Republican National Committee toward President Trump’s inauguration, rather than to Trump for his campaign.


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