September 25, 2017 9:49 am
Updated: September 26, 2017 9:07 am

Roughriders, Stampeders voice support for NFL players after Donald Trump’s comments

A player protest in the NFL slipped over the border Sunday to Mosaic Stadium. A number of players in the NFL have been kneeling during the U.S. anthem, only to be harshly criticized by President Donald Trump. David Baxter picks up the protest at home and how it played out. We caution this story contains strong language.

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Backlash from U.S. President Donald Trump‘s comments about NFL players kneeling during the national anthem reached the Canadian Football League (CFL) on Sunday.

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Though players from both the Calgary Stampeders and Saskatchewan Roughriders stood for the Canadian anthem prior to their game in Regina, the Riders locked arms in a show of solidarity.

READ MORE: Dozens of players kneel in defiance of Donald Trump

Many players voiced their support for their football brethren south of the border after Calgary’s 15-9 victory.

“It’s sad and it’s disheartening to me as an American to see our president getting in bickering matches with people on Twitter, calling out athletes saying they should be fired,” said Calgary quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell.

“I’m glad we’re all uniting against that and I hope we take a stand against something that is unacceptable.”

WATCH: Ken King would be ‘OK’ with a player who sat on the bench during national anthem.

Trump inflamed an already emotional and controversial issue on Friday at a rally in Alabama.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired,”‘ Trump said during his speech.

READ MORE: Donald Trump takes thinly veiled shot at Colin Kaepernick in Alabama speech

Trump also rescinded his invite to the NBA champion Golden State Warriors after all-star guard Steph Curry said he was not interested in visiting the White House.

Roughriders quarterback Kevin Glenn took to Twitter on Saturday morning and voiced his opinion on the issue.

Glenn tweeted: “#trump is the disrecptful (sic) one, he should be fired #trumpisabean.”

Riders offensive lineman Derek Dennis was one of the players that locked arms.

“We wanted to show solidarity and show that we understand what’s going on back home,” he said. “We didn’t do this to disrespect the Canadian flag or its Armed Forces because this country has given us an opportunity to play football, the game we love. We just wanted to show our support for what is going on back home.

“Being a kid from New York City … I was attacked by a bunch of undercover detectives who just messed with me just because they could. I’ve been through it and I understand what’s going on.”

Former Roughrider president and current Friends of the Riders Lottery president Tom Shepherd weighed in on the anthem protest debate prior to Sunday’s game during 620 CKRM’s pre-game show. During the interview, Shepherd said Trump is “his man”.

“I 100 per cent agree with him, what he said about it. If I was an owner the players wouldn’t do that. It’s my workplace,” Shepherd said.

“I understand, they can protest anywhere else, but not when I’m paying them to be on the field.”

Global News reached out to Shepherd Monday. He said that he has already said enough, and declined further comment.

IN PICTURES: NFL players, owners take a stand against Donald Trump

On Monday afternoon, the Saskatchewan Roughriders released the following statement about the anthem:

Prior to Sunday’s Canadian Football League game, Saskatchewan Roughrider players chose to stand arm in arm during the national anthem as a sign of unity.

Our players and coaches stood together, side by side, locked arm in arm as teammates, as co-workers, and as friends as a sign of solidarity and in support of human equality.

As an organization, we stand alongside our players and support their individual right to freedom of speech and their beliefs.

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie issued his own statement on twitter shortly after.

University of Regina Kinesiology professor Larena Hoeber studies sport and culture. She was at Sunday’s game and was surprised when the Riders linked arms. While the act is controversial, she said the national anthem is an optimal time to draw attention to issues facing the African-American community like police brutality.

“They have a huge amount of media presence and media coverage of this, and it’s probably their one chance to actually have a voice beyond press conferences that they might have after the game, but all eyes are on them,” Hoeber said.

As for those who say athletes should keep politics out of sports, Hoeber said that major sporting events are political in nature. That nature includes the singing of a national anthem, and how politicians use the events.

“We have politicians that come to games to show that they support the regular people’s interest. It is political. So to say that they shouldn’t be doing it, or that only certain people should do it is wrong,” she said.

According to The Associated Press, approximately 130 NFL players either took to a knee or sat during the Star-Spangled Banner during the league’s first nine games on Sunday.

The Pittsburgh Steelers elected to remain in the tunnel while the anthem was sung.

“It’s more about unity than anything else,” said Calgary’s Charleston Hughes. “This is about being united as brothers to stand up for one another. It’s not just about the NFL or just about the CFL. It’s about standing up for what is right and showing support.”

The movement started last year with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who took to one knee in protest of racial injustice and police brutality in America.

READ MORE: Donald Trump praises NASCAR in wake of NFL ‘Take A Knee’ protest

On Saturday, the anthem protest reached Major League Baseball shores. Oakland A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell was the first player in that sport to take a knee during the Star-Spangled Banner.

Several teams in the WNBA have protested the anthem since 2016.

“It shows that people understand the social issues that are going on right now,” Dennis said. “With Trump’s comments the other day, it showed us that we’re really alone as an ethnicity in America. It hurts.”

On Monday afternoon, the Saskatchewan Roughriders released the following statement:

Prior to Sunday’s Canadian Football League game, Saskatchewan Roughrider players chose to stand arm in arm during the national anthem as a sign of unity.

Our players and coaches stood together, side by side, locked arm in arm as teammates, as co-workers, and as friends as a sign of solidarity and in support of human equality.

As an organization, we stand alongside our players and support their individual right to freedom of speech and their beliefs.

With files from David Baxter

© 2017 The Canadian Press

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