He tweeted why he felt the need to leave in a string of tweets:
I left today's Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.— Vice President Pence (@VP) October 8, 2017
At a time when so many Americans are inspiring our nation with their courage, resolve, and resilience...— Vice President Pence (@VP) October 8, 2017
...now, more than ever, we should rally around our Flag and everything that unites us...— Vice President Pence (@VP) October 8, 2017
While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I don't think it's too much to ask NFL players to respect the Flag and our National Anthem— Vice President Pence (@VP) October 8, 2017
Pence also had a statement prepared, and tweeted that out as well:
President Donald Trump tweeted following Pence leaving and issuing his statement:
The Colts and 49ers have both had players kneel during the 2017 season. On Sunday, the Colts linked arms during the anthem, while at least 23 members of the 49ers took a knee during the anthem.
Eric Reid of the 49ers was one of the first players to join Colin Kaepernick in 2016, when the movement started. He wrote an op-ed in the New York Times explaining that he and Kaepernick kneeled for the anthem to protest inequality and oppression that people of color in the United States face.
Here’s part of what Reid wrote:
I approached Colin the Saturday before our next game to discuss how I could get involved with the cause but also how we could make a more powerful and positive impact on the social justice movement. We spoke at length about many of the issues that face our community, including systemic oppression against people of color, police brutality and the criminal justice system. We also discussed how we could use our platform, provided to us by being professional athletes in the N.F.L., to speak for those who are voiceless.
After hours of careful consideration, and even a visit from Nate Boyer, a retired Green Beret and former NFL player, we came to the conclusion that we should kneel, rather than sit, the next day during the anthem as a peaceful protest. We chose to kneel because it’s a respectful gesture. I remember thinking our posture was like a flag flown at half-mast to mark a tragedy.
It baffles me that our protest is still being misconstrued as disrespectful to the country, flag, and military personnel. We chose it because it’s exactly the opposite. It has always been my understanding that the brave men and women who fought and died for our country did so to ensure that we could live in a fair and free society, which includes the right to speak out in protest.
After the game, Reid said he felt what Pence did was a PR stunt.
The NFLPA responded with a statement supporting the players:
NFL players are union members and part of the labor movement that has woven the fabric of America for generations. Our full statement: pic.twitter.com/FMOXvz3G7h— NFLPA (@NFLPA) October 9, 2017
The Colts announced on Friday that the team, along with their players would create the Colts Players Fund for Equality. The fund supports “charities to promote equality, improve relationships between law enforcement and the community, and provide opportunities for minorities.”
Many demonstrations during the national anthem have taken place since President Donald Trump made comments at an Alabama rally in September. Trump said that NFL players who kneeled for the anthem were “sons of bitches” that needed to be fired by owners.