Athletes unite in protest against Trump

Athletes from NFL teams across the United States knelt, linked arms or stood during the U.S. national anthem to protest tweets by President Donald Trump.

From Muhammad Ali to Carlos Delgado, athletes have history of standing — and sitting — for their beliefs

About 200 athletes from the NFL linked arms, knelt or stood in a sign of solidarity against recent tweets from U.S. President Donald Trump. On Twitter, Trump criticized athletes who knelt during the national anthem calling their acts of protest "very disrespectful to our country." During a public event in Alabama, he also insisted that those protesting the American flag at games should be "fired." Trump's latest criticism has intensified the pushback from NFL players. At least three team owners joined their players in protest.

The protests started more than a year ago after former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand during the anthem as a protest of police treatment of minorities. 

(Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports)

Other professional athletes join protests.

At a Major League Baseball game on Saturday, Oakland Athletics' catcher Bruce Maxwell knelt for the anthem. The first MLB player to do so.

(John Hefti/USA TODAY Sports)

Colin Kaepernick refuses to stand.

The San Francisco 49ers quarterback stayed seated during the singing of the U.S. national anthem in protest of racial injustice in the U.S., raising the ire of many football fans. Some veterans, however, stood by Kaepernick's silent act and others in the league have joined him with gestures of their own. Kaepernick remains unsigned this season and some supporters believe it's because of the protests. 

(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Anthem protests took place across the NFL on 9/11.

Before the start of the NFL's first round of regular season games — which happened to fall on the weekend of the 15th anniversary of 9/11 — the members of the Seattle Seahawks stood on the sideline linked arm in arm in a show of unity. At the same game, four Miami Dolphins players chose to kneel and others across the NFL made similar gestures of protest.

Marcus Peters, of the Kansas City Chiefs, invoked a powerful pose during the singing of the U.S. anthem.

Jurrell Casey, Jason McCourty and Wesley Woodyard did the same before the Tennessee Titans and Minnesota Vikings regular season opener, as did New England Patriots' Martellus Bennett and Devin McCourty.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in an interview with NBC's Matt Lauer on Sunday that, while he may not support the players' statements, the league protects their rights. "We encourage our players to be respectful, but they also have rights and we respect that."

(Troy Wayrynen/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters)

Black Lives Matter resonates among pro athletes.

The recent displays of solidarity on the sidelines are far from the first. In 2014, members of the St. Louis Rams took to the field making the "hands up, don't shoot" gesture associated with protesters in Ferguson, Mo., who called attention to acts of police brutality and the shooting death of black teen Michael Brown.

(Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters)

LeBron James wore an 'I Can't Breathe' T-shirt.

The Cleveland Cavaliers star, along with fellow NBA players Kyrie Irvine, Jarrett Jack, Kevin Garnett and several others, donned T-shirts that referenced the last words of Eric Garner, who died after being placed in a chokehold by a New York City police officer in 2014.

(Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters)

L.A. Clippers reject Sterling's racial remarks.

In response to Sterling's purported comments urging a woman to not bring black people to his team's games, the Clippers turned their uniforms inside out as a show of solidarity. The Los Angeles Clippers chose not to speak publicly about owner Donald Sterling before they faced the Golden State Warriors for Game 4 of their first-round series in 2014. Instead, they made a silent protest to generate attention. 

(Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

Blue Jay Carlos Delgado spoke out against the war in Iraq.

The now-retired slugger refused to take part in the ceremonial singing of the U.S. national anthem before games in 2004 over his opposition to what he called "the stupidest war ever."

(Mike Segar/Reuters)

Tommie Smith and John Carlos 1st raised their fists at the 1968 Games.

The U.S. sprinters made their famously defiant gestures on the podium at the Mexico City Olympics after coming first and third respectively in the 200-metre sprint.

Their raised fists, which were made in reference to the Black Power movement, were especially polarizing at the time but the two have since become champions of human rights, recently speaking out against Russia's anti-gay stance at the Sochi Games. Australian silver medallist Peter Norman also stood in solidarity with Smith and Carlos, both of whom were pallbearers at his funeral in 2006.

(Associated Press)

The Greatest fought the war and eventually won.

Muhammad Ali's refusal to "take part in Christian wars" in 1967 stands as one of the greatest acts of defiance by an athlete. A Muslim convert, the former heavyweight champion was called a draft dodger and had his titles stripped for his unwavering stance. His conviction was reversed in 1971. Here's Ali speaking at an anti-Vietnam War rally in Chicago in 1967.

(Charles Harrity/Associated Press)