The National Football League will re-air its Super Bowl commercial promoting unity during NBC's "Sunday Night Football" in the wake of President Trump's call for teams to fire players who protest during the national anthem and for fans to boycott.
"Inside these lines, we don't have to come from the same place to help each other reach the same destination," the 60-second ad says, in a voiceover delivered by Forest Whitaker. "Inside these lines, we may have our differences, but recognize there's more that unites us."
The NFL is resurrecting the ad, which first appeared in Super Bowl LI, amid a sudden, heated battle with the president.
"Wouldn't you love to see one of these N.F.L. owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he's fired,'" the president said Friday during a campaign rally for Senator Luther Strange. "'He's fired!'"
Last season, the San Francisco 49ers' then-quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem before games to protest social injustice and inequality.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell responded on Saturday, calling President Trump's remarks "divisive" and showing "an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of or players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities."
President Trump took to Twitter, saying fans should boycott the NFL.
If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
Multiple NFL players took a knee or locked arms during the national anthem before games on Sunday. The Pittsburgh Steelers remained in the locker room during the anthem, with Coach Mike Tomlin saying players shouldn't be forced to choose sides by standing or kneeling.
And at least several team owners released statements against the president's criticism.
Trump responded on Twitter, saying "locked arms is good, kneeling unacceptable" and predicting "Bad ratings!"
Great solidarity for our National Anthem and for our Country. Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable. Bad ratings!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017