VP Pence leaves game when 49ers protest during anthem

A tweet from US Vice President Mike Pence at the Colts game

He said in a tweet on Sunday that he asked Pence to leave the stadium "if any player kneeled, disrespecting our country".

The Republican had posted a picture of himself ahead of Sunday's game, stating he was there to honor the career of former quarterback Peyton Manning, whose No. 18 jersey is being retired by the Indianapolis Colts.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick stirred controversy when he knelt for the anthem in protest against police brutality a year ago.

More than a dozen players from San Francisco 49ers had knelt for the anthem, while members of Mr Pence's home team, the Indianapolis Colts, linked arms in solidarity. "I asked the vice-president Pence to leave the stage if players put a knee on the ground [during the national anthem], a lack of respect for our country", he wrote on his Twitter account. Pence said: "I don't think it's too much to ask NFL players to respect the Flag and our National Anthem".

In what appeared to be a gaffe, it emerged that the image Pence had tweeted with his wife Karen at the game had been in fact from 2014.

Kaepernick has not denied La Canfora's claim outright but he has been retweeting the assertions of others who have responded to the CBS sport reporter. The VP of the United States said that he did not want to "dignify" the event.

The protests started when Colin Kaepernick sat down for the anthem before a game in August 2016. He said during a political rally in Huntsville, Ala., on September 22 that National Football League owners should fire the players who knelt during the anthem.

The statement by the president and the subsequent Twitter storm he unleashed, renewed a national debate over players' first amendment rights.

At a campaign rally in Alabama last month, Trump shouted, "Wouldn't you love to see one of these National Football League owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, "Get that son of a bitch off the field right now"?" he said to roaring applause. After having players kneel last week, both the Detroit Lions and Buffalo Bills all stood for the anthem before their games. Brian Schatz tweeting, "Wait".

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