SUNBURY-ON-THAMES, England (AP) — New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram wants all his teammates to show a unified front during the national anthem at Wembley Stadium on Sunday — whether that’s sitting or standing.
Ingram said the team plans to have “everybody together” before the game against the Miami Dolphins in London.
“I feel like that’s what makes the greatest impact,” Ingram said after practice outside London. “And that’s what we’re trying to bring, is unity, and to bring this world together. When the entire team does something, the same, I think it’s just more powerful that way.”
Ingram was among 10 Saints players who sat on the bench during the anthem before their win over the Carolina Panthers last Sunday on a day of unprecedented protests among NFL players in response to comments by President Donald Trump. He crudely said at a political rally that he wants owners to fire any player who “disrespects our flag.”
In an interview Thursday on the TV show “Fox and Friends,” Trump said NFL team owners are “afraid of their players.” He’s still calling for action against those who kneel or sit during the anthem to protest racial injustice. Trump insists the NFL should require players to stand.
The Saints are under pressure after the local arm of the Republican Party urged owner Tom Benson to require all players to stand during the anthem this weekend.
Saints coach Sean Payton said he wasn’t aware of any requirements passed down to the players, but he expected the team to have a “more organized plan” this time. He called plans for last week’s protest “last-minute.”
“The president’s speech came out and the next morning we were in team meetings and up eating pregame meal,” he said.
At Wembley last Sunday, more than 20 players from the Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens knelt on the sideline during the anthem. The Pittsburgh Steelers did not come out for the anthem at all — a move meant to avoid forcing players to make individual statements but only sparked further controversy in what has become a national and international debate.
“We’re just trying to make our country a better place, make this world a better place, through a peaceful protest,” Ingram said. “We’re hoping that will ignite a conversation and will ignite a movement that will be positive and bring everybody together, all races together.”