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Steelers’ Maurkice Pouncey: ‘We’ll all be standing for the national anthem’

Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey said the team will stand united during the national anthem Sunday before its game against the Baltimore Ravens.

“I think the bigger message was we were trying to stay out of it. That we should (have) united inside,” Pouncey told reporters after practice Wednesday. “It was all about the flag. It was just a big misunderstanding. Trust me, I’m very sorry to anyone who feels the way they do. I care about the flag dearly. Trust me, this team will be out there standing Sunday.”

>> Read more trending news

The Steelers made national headlines earlier this week when they stayed in the tunnel during the national anthem before their game against the Chicago Bears. 

Offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva was seen standing several feet in front of the rest of the team, which led to speculation about whether the players were divided.

Pouncey addressed that as well.

“That’s something that happened after the whirlwind of the meeting. It was a shock to all of us. We feel just as bad. Trust us. We keep telling you guys ... We gotta make it right, and I honestly think we will go out and make it right.”

Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Heyward addressed the controversy Monday, trying to make it clear that the team supports our country and our troops. Pouncey reiterated that message.

“I promise you one thing this week, we’ll all be standing out there for the national anthem,” Pouncey said. “Trust me. We respect our flag and we respect the military."

Protests during the anthem in the NFL gained attention last year when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began sitting, later kneeling during the anthem. Since then, players in different sports have kneeled during the anthem to draw attention to racial inequality, police brutality and general social injustices in the United States.

Restaurants, bars stop airing NFL games in the midst of protests

A Virginia restaurant and bar is vowing to stop showing NFL games until players stop kneeling for the national anthem.

>> Read more trending news 

“Enough is enough,” Fat Tuesday’s in Fairfax, Virginia, wrote in a now-deleted Facebook post to customers. “As proud parents of an active duty member of the US Army and a veteran of Afghanistan, we stand on the side of our brave men & women in uniform not the men in sports costumes that take a knee and disrespect our country, our National Anthem, our military and our veterans.”

“We place a much higher value on our great country than any sporting event,” the announcement continued. “Therefore, we will not be showing any NFL games at Fat Tuesday’s until there is a stop to this foolishness.”

Owner RL Butler said he and his wife came to the decision after this weekend’s NFL games, which saw whole teams protesting during the national anthem and a number of head coaches and team owners linking arms with them in solidarity. While he doesn’t have an issue with athletes using their platforms to protest and bring awareness to issues, he doesn’t think it should be done during the anthem.

“It’s not about protesting as much as it’s the way they’re doing it,” he told Rare.us. “You can protest all you want any other time and place, but when that song starts playing, you stand.”

So far, they’ve received a mixture of positive and negative feedback from patrons and Facebook users alike. The Butlers don’t plan on reversing the new policy anytime soon.

David McCraw, a former veteran and owner of Palmetto Restaurant and Ale House in Greenville, South Carolina, has also vowed to stop showing broadcasting NFL games until league members stop kneeling.

“NFL will never be played at Palmetto Alehouse until all players pay respect to our flag and our country,” McCraw told WHNS.

McCraw, who called the kneeling players entitled, arrogant and disrespectful, also said “people who’ve attained celebrity status should not be telling people what or what not to do because they don’t share the same struggles as people who live normal lives,” WHNS reported.

“I do not support anyone that thinks that our country or our flag is not worth standing for,” McCraw told WHNS.

He continued: “Our president is our president, but I don’t stand in unity with everything he says. This is a country of one people and we need to stand for our flag. There are issues in this country that need to be addressed, but disrespecting our flag and our country is not the way to do it.”

McCraw said he will show other sports on TVs at his restaurant.

Firefighter relieved of duty after saying NFL anthem protesters should be 'shot in the head'

A former Earle, Arkansas, firefighter was relieved of his duties after commenting on NFL players kneeling for the national anthem.

>> Watch the news report here

In a Facebook post, Jonathan Marotti wrote:

"U want my honest opinion about these worthless piece of c**p professional football basketball and baseball wannabe players i think trump should post snipers at every game and each player that takes a knee or sits in the lockeroom should b shot in the head i have no sympathy for them and no respect and as for the rest of u obama lovin snowflakes out here protesting and makin idiots out of urselves u should b shot on sight to if u disagree with me then dont let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya."

>> Pennsylvania fire chief out of a job after racial slur directed at Steelers' Tomlin

The post has since been removed or made private.

The Earle Fire Department relieved Marotti of his duties indefinitely for the inappropriate comments.

Mayor Sherman Smith said the post is not representative of the city of Earle.

>> Live updates: Trump slams NFL players for national anthem protests, athletes react

“I hope the people don't connect that with the attitude or tone of the city of Earle because it certainly does not display it in any way,” Smith said.

When asked whether the city has a current social media policy, he said, "No," adding he will now look to initiate one.

>> PHOTOS: NFL takes a stand on football Sunday

“Especially with it being the thing of the day and people really relying on that to a large degree, I think it would be a good move to go ahead and adopt one,” Smith said.

While Marotti apologizes to those who he offended, those who live in Earle agree with the right to free speech but in this case disagree with how it was carried out.

>> Read more trending news

“There's enough stuff going on out here already,” said resident William Davis. 

Marotti issued the following public apology Tuesday: 

"This is jonathan marotti id like to take this time to apologize to everyone i offended with my facebook post it was wrong and childish and i made a mistake that i cant erase id like to apologize to my family and my friends and most of all to the earle fd and the city of earle and to fire fighters all over this great land im truely embarrassed about this and i hope u all can forgive me."

Pennsylvania fire chief out of a job after racial slur directed at Steelers' Tomlin

The Cecil Township Board of Supervisors in Pennsylvania has removed Paul Smith as fire chief of the Muse Volunteer Fire Company.

>> Watch the news report here

In a statement, the board said, "Effective immediately, Paul Smith is no longer the volunteer fire chief in Muse."

>> Live updates: Trump slams NFL players for national anthem protests, athletes react

Firefighters who want to remain anonymous told WPXI that it's not been an easy day for them; they have been receiving threats at the other two fire stations in town, as well.

>> Photos: NFL takes a stand on football Sunday

Several Washington County firefighters contacted WPXI, saying they weren't comfortable with a comment made by the Cecil fire chief on Facebook during Sunday’s Steelers game.

>> Villanueva regrets being the lone Steelers player to stand for the national anthem

On Monday, WPXI reached out to Cecil Township's board of supervisors, who said they are deeply disturbed by the comment.

>> WWII veteran, 97, kneels in support of NFL's national anthem protests

"The Cecil Township Board of Supervisors is deeply disturbed by the comments made by volunteer Chief Smith, and in no way, shape or form condone his comments,” said the township manager.

>> On WPXI.com: Pittsburgh Steelers lineman, veteran Alejandro Villanueva's jersey listed as top seller

Smith was commenting on a post about the Steelers’ decision not to participate in the national anthem on the field and wrote, "Tomlin just added himself to the list of no good [N-words]. Yes I said it.”

>> Tom Brady calls Trump's comments on national anthem protests 'divisive'

Smith was captain of Cecil Township Volunteer Fire Department No. 2 in Muse. He is currently out of the country on vacation, but said he regrets the statement.

>> LeBron James again calls Trump a 'bum,' salutes NFL national anthem protests

"I am embarrassed at this," he told WPXI. "I want to apologize. I was frustrated and angry at the Steelers not standing for the anthem. ... This had nothing to do with my fire department. I regret what I said."

>> Cowboys, coach Jason Garrett, owner Jerry Jones take a knee before national anthem in Phoenix

Dylan Parseo, who is the son of the former police chief of Muse Fire Company No. 2, believes Smith crossed the line.

>> Read more trending news

"I'm completely upset. Especially for a town like this, coming from the fire chief. That's disrespectful in my eyes," Parseo said. 

Live updates: Trump slams NFL players for national anthem protests, athletes react 

Players across the NFL fired back at President Donald Trump by taking a knee, standing or refusing to show up at all for the national anthem before Sunday’s games and again Monday night.

>> Read more trending news

The protests came after Trump suggested that NFL team owners should fire players who refuse to stand during the anthem, telling a crowd in Alabama on Friday that “that’s a total disrespect for our heritage.”

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first started kneeling during the anthem last year, to protest police violence against minorities. The protest got mixed reactions, but other NFL players -- and players in other sports -- have since followed Kaepernick’s lead to protest inequality.

LeBron James again calls Trump a 'bum,' salutes NFL national anthem protests

Basketball star LeBron James doubled down on his criticism of President Donald Trump in a press conference with reporters in Cleveland on Monday after Trump criticized James’s friend and on-court rival, Stephen Curry.

>> Live updates: Trump slams NFL players for national anthem protests, athletes react

“U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain't going! So therefore ain't no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!” James wrote in a weekend tweet.

>> See the tweet here

Given the chance to soften his statements, James, once again, called Trump a bum.

>> Watch the moment here

“He is a bum,” James told reporters during the Cleveland Cavaliers’s media day. “He doesn’t understand the power that he has for being the leader of this beautiful country. He doesn’t understand how many kids, no matter the race, look up to the president.”

>> Read more trending news

During his conversation Monday with reporters, James praised the NFL players who chose to silently protest before Sunday’s game. At one point, he chastised Trump by saying that he for “damn sure” didn’t run the country.

“The people run this country, not one individual, and damn sure not him,” James said.

>> Click here to watch

Tom Brady calls Trump's comments on national anthem protests 'divisive'

President Donald Trump has not been shy about pushing back on NFL players protesting the national anthem. As a result, the sports world has been set on fire with various players, coaches, front offices and even full leagues responding in kind. On Monday morning, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady followed suit.

>> Live updates: Trump slams NFL players for national anthem protests, athletes react

In response to Trump, with whom Brady is famously friendly, the legendary signal-caller took a stance in an interview with WEEI (via ESPN.com):

>> PHOTOS: NFL takes a stand on football Sunday

“I certainly disagree with what he said. I thought it was just divisive.

“I just want to support my teammates. I’m never one that says, ‘Oh, that’s wrong or that’s right.’ But I do believe in what I believe in, and I believe in bringing people together and respect and love and trust. Those are the values that my parents instilled in me and that’s how I try to live every day.

“I’ve been blessed to be in a locker room with guys from all over the United States over the course of my career. Some of my great friends are from Florida, Virginia, New York, Montana, Colorado, Texas. I think one thing about football is that it brings so many guys together, guys that you would never have the opportunity to be around, whether it was in college and all the way into the pros. We’re all different. We’re all unique. That’s what makes us all so special.”

>> Read more trending news

Brady did not blast Trump in the same way that many have, but he was plain in his comments about disagreeing and referring to Trump’s sentiments as “divisive.”

Read more here.

Pharrell Williams takes a knee in solidarity with NFL national anthem protests

Rapper and singer Pharrell Williams took a knee on Sunday night during a charity concert in Charlottesville, Virginia, to show his support for NFL players who knelt during the national anthem to bring attention to racial injustice.

>> Live updates: Trump slams players, NFL responds by taking a knee

Dave Matthews’ Concert for Charlottesville: An Evening of Music and Unity was held on Sunday night in the wake of the clashes last month after a rally by white nationalists.

>> PHOTOS: NFL takes a stand on football Sunday

“If I want to get on my knees right now for the people of my city, for the people of my state, that’s what this flag is for,” Williams told the crowd, according to Billboard.

The concert was held on the campus at the University of Virginia and was free to members of the Charlottesville and university communities. Justin Timberlake, Chris Stapleton and Ariana Grande were among the performers.

>> On Rare.us: Jennifer Lopez will donate $1 million to aid hurricane relief in Puerto Rico

Williams joined Stevie Wonder in showing his solidarity with the protest after Wonder started his show in New York City by taking a knee.

>> Stevie Wonder takes 'both knees' after Trump slams NFL stars' national anthem protests

“Tonight, I’m taking a knee for America,” Wonder said, according to People. “Not just one knee, but I’m taking both knees. Both knees in prayer for our planet, our future, leaders of our world and our globe. Amen.”

>> See the clip here

>> Read more trending news

Many celebrities, including “Will and Grace” star Megan MullallyDiddy and the members of the band Pearl Jam joined the protest on social media, writing, “#TakeAKnee.”

Steelers fans burn memorabilia over national anthem stance

The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t take to the field Sunday as the national anthem played before the team faced the Chicago Bears, and that decision isn’t sitting well with some fans.

>> Read more trending news

Steelers fans across America posted videos on social media showing them burning their memorabilia after the team failed to show up for the anthem. The protest comes amid tension between NFL players, who first started taking a knee during the anthem last year in protest of inequality and police violence, and President Donald Trump, who called the protests disrespectful.

>> Related: Trump slams NFL players for national anthem protests, athletes react

Jim Heaney, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, posted on YouTube and said, “Can't come out and stand for our anthem or flag? I'm done with you. #BoycottPittsburghSteelers #BoycottTheNFL.”

NFL stadium worker quits job after national anthem protest

After working for nearly three decades at New York’s New Era Field, a man quit his job Sunday after Buffalo Bills team members knelt in protest during the national anthem.

>> Read more trending news

“I waited until the national anthem ended,” stadium worker Erich Nikischer told WGRZ. “I took off my shirt, threw my Bills hat on the ground (and) walked out.”

Nikischer told the news station that he felt Bills players were being disrespectful with their failure to stand during the anthem, echoing statements made by President Donald Trump over the weekend in which he criticized players who have used the pre-game anthem for protest.

“That’s a total disrespect for our heritage,” Trump told a crowd gathered in Alabama on Friday. “That's a total disrespect for everything we stand for.”

Trump’s comments drew both criticism and applause.

>> Related: Trump slams players, NFL responds by taking a knee

Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula said in a statement Saturday that the team had a meeting in the wake of Trump’s comments, which they called “divisive and disrespectful.”

“We tried to use them as an opportunity to further unify our team and our organization,” the statement said. “Our players have the freedom to express themselves in a respectful and thoughtful manner, and we all agreed that our sole messages is to provide and to promote an environment that is focused on love and equality.”

Nikischer told WGRZ that he will miss his co-workers, but added that he will not return to the stadium until after the national anthem protests end.

“I believe people have the right to protest,” Nikischer said. “I just don’t believe that’s the proper venue for it.”

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