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VP Mike Pence walks out of NFL game over national anthem protest

Vice President Mike Pence, front center, stands during the playing of the national anthem before an NFL football game between the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, in Indianapolis.

Vice President Mike Pence, front center, stands during the playing of the national anthem before an NFL football game between the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017, in Indianapolis. |
AP Photo

INDIANAPOLIS — Vice President Mike Pence left the 49ers-Colts game Sunday after about a dozen San Francisco players took a knee.

The former Indiana governor flew in so he could watch Peyton Manning’s jersey retirement ceremony on Sunday. Manning will become the first Indianapolis-era player in Colts history to have his number retired and will also be inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor.

But Pence didn’t stick around long.

Pence said on Twitter: “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.”

President Donald Trump tweeted that he asked Pence to leave if any players protested.

The White House also issued a statement from Pence, in which he says Americans should rally around the flag. Pence said: “I don’t think it’s too much to ask NFL players to respect the Flag and our National Anthem.”

 

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Pence is a noted sports fan and it’s the second major event he’s attended in his home state since taking office in January. He also attended May’s Indianapolis 500, a family tradition.

But Pence couldn’t come to Manning’s statue unveiling Saturday afternoon, which was attended by a number of luminaries including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Instead, Pence spent most of Saturday honoring victims of the Las Vegas shooting before returning to his home state.

Here is Pence’s full statement:

“I left today’s Colts game because President Trump and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem. At a time when so many Americans are inspiring our nation with their courage, resolve, and resilience, now, more than ever, we should rally around our Flag and everything that unites us. 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. I stand with President Trump, I stand with our soldiers, and I will always stand for our Flag and our National Anthem.”