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WATCH: High school football team stands with police, veterans during national anthem

When the football team for Mascoutah High School in Illinois marched onto the field Friday night for their homecoming game with Triad High School, they had company: The team walked hand-in-hand with law enforcement officers, firefighters and veterans.

>> Click here to watch

>> Texas high school football players kicked off team for protesting during national anthem

Athletic Director Scott Battas came up with the idea but let the team’s captains make the final choice, the Belleville News-Democrat reports.

>> On Rare.us: This NFL legend thinks the league needs to install a rule to ban kneeling during national anthem

Senior Darius Cooley said the decision was unrelated to the protests in the NFL, explaining, “In high school, we play for each other. It’s not about the individuals or whose opinion is bigger. We all respect each other and recognize that everyone comes from a different perspective and have different opinions.”

>> Read more trending news

Coach Josh Lee echoed the sentiment, saying, “That’s not some huge political stand, and we’re not getting into people’s point of view. ... They just want to shed a positive light on people who do positive things in our community.”

>> See a photo here

>> Georgia high school football team runs onto field carrying American flags

Unfortunately for Mascoutah, their decision to bring the boys in blue onto the gridiron didn’t win them any favors with the gods of football; they ended up falling to Triad by a score of 24-7.

>> Watch another clip here

'SNL' premiere: Baldwin's Trump slams San Juan mayor, NFL protesters

"Saturday Night Live" is back – and the iconic comedy show doesn't appear to be giving President Donald Trump a free pass anytime soon.

The season 43 premiere kicked off with a fresh skewering of the president, starting with his response to the devastation in Puerto Rico and ensuing feud with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz.

>> Watch the sketch here

In the cold open, Melissa Villaseñor, playing Cruz, called Alec Baldwin's Trump, pleading for federal assistance. He promised to send aid by "Tuesday, Wednesday at the latest."

"Mr. President, that's not good enough," Villaseñor-as-Cruz replied.

"Well, you should've paid your bills," Baldwin's Trump fired back. "FEMA takes a few days unless you join FEMA Prime."

Baldwin-as-Trump said he wants to help Puerto Rico, "but we have to take care of America first."

"Wait, you do know we're a U.S. territory, don't you?" Villaseñor's Cruz asked.

Baldwin's Trump, mouth agape, hesitated before stammering, "I mean, I do, but not many know that, no."

He later hung up on her, saying, "Wow, that woman was so nasty." 

>> Watch a clip here

The sketch then tackled Trump's recent response to NFL players' national anthem protests.

"I'm a little embarrassed that I said it's a black-and-white issue," said Aidy Bryant, playing Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. "I should've said it's a black-versus-white issue."

>> Read more trending news

"It's disgraceful," Baldwin's Trump responded. "You know, I actually love football. I could've played. People say I remind them of an NFL player because I'm combative, I like to win and I might have a degenerative brain disease."

>> See the clip here

The cold open also took aim at Attorney General Jeff Sessions (Kate McKinnon), who popped up in the Oval Office and hopped into the president's lap to get back on his good side.

"I might look adorable, but I'm frightening," McKinnon's Sessions said.

>> See the GIF here

Much to McKinnon-as-Sessions' dismay, Trump cut their chat short for dinner with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (Alex Moffat).

"Sir, are you really leaving with him?" McKinnon's Sessions asked.

"I told you, I'm nothing if not loyal," Baldwin's Trump replied. "Come over here, Chuck. We're both New Yorkers, we both enjoy a good slice, we never go to Times Square and we love saying ..."

McKinnon and Moffat joined Baldwin to finish the sentence: "Live from New York, it's Saturday night!"

Broncos will ‘stand together’ before Sunday’s NFL game

The NFL’s Denver Broncos announced that team members and coaches would stand together before Sunday’s game in respect for the national anthem, the country and its veterans, Fox News reported Saturday. The Broncos will be hosting the Oakland Raiders in a nationally televised game on CBS.

>> Read more trending news

In a joint statement that also was posted to the team’s Twitter account, the 52-member squad said its actions last week were "in no way a protest of the military, the flag or those who keep us safe."

The statement comes a few days after Broncos executive John Elway -- who led Denver to victory in Super Bowl XXXII in January 1998 -- said he believes in standing for the anthem.

"Take the politics out of football," Elway said.

The team's statement also explained its demonstrations from the past week:

"Last week, members of our team joined their brothers around the NFL in a powerful display of unity. As controversial as it appeared, we needed to show our collective strength and resolve," the Broncos said.

The team said its locker room is very diverse, but that being members of the same squad unite them as a team.

"No matter how divisive some comments and issues can be, nothing should get in the way of that," the team said, appearing to reference President Donald Trump's comments in Alabama last week about NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem. The president suggested that players who took a knee should be fired from their teams, Fox News reported.

Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller, who helped lead the team's demonstrations last week, said after that game that Trump "assaulted" their freedom of speech and that "we had to do something."

Photo circulating of Seahawks' Michael Bennett burning flag is fake

A photo circulating online of Seattle Seahawks player Michael Bennett burning an American flag is fake.

The original photo of Bennett shows him dancing in the locker room after a victory. 

The original photo was shared by the Seattle Seahawks over Twitter on Jan. 3, 2016. The photo is credited to Rod Mar on the team's website.

>> Read more trending news

A photoshopped version of the photograph is circulating online and was posted to the “Vets for Trump” Facebook page where it has garnered over 6,000 shares. It was also shared to the KIRO 7 News Facebook page. The altered photo has since been removed from Facebook, but was captured in other social media posts.

FAKE PHOTO:

REAL PHOTO:

The fake photo was posted after a Sunday of NFL protests during football games. 

The Seattle Seahawks were among the protesters; the team stayed in the locker room during the anthem before their game. 

The Seahawks put out a statement in the afternoon before the game, saying they would not participate.

"As a team, we have decided we will not participate in the national anthem," the statement reads. "We will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of color in this country. Out of love for our country and in honor of the sacrifices made on our behalf, we unite to oppose those that would deny our most basic freedoms."Earlier this week, Bennett shook hands with military veterans outside the team’s practice space, as photos on social media showed. 

Dayna Mink Coats wrote on Facebook that when driving near the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton on Tuesday, she saw a parked car in the middle of the road. 

“I thought it might be a car accident so I snapped a picture. As I got closer I realized it was group of military veterans who had assembled in front of the VMAC,” Coats wrote. “Mostly all Seniors who had probably seen the battlefield firsthand. They were proudly wearing their veteran’s hats, jackets and some carried American flags. The car in the middle of the road … it was Michael Bennett’s.” 

Coats said as she drove by the veterans and Bennett shaking hands, she became emotional. So she pulled over in tears.

Missouri bar owner: Anti-Kaepernick doormat not a ‘race thing’

A Missouri bar owner is defending his use of two NFL jerseys, including Colin Kaepernick’s, as doormats outside his buidling’s front door.

>> Read more trending news

KOMU-TV reports the display outside the SNAFU Bar in Lake Ozark originally showed Marshawn Lynch’s Oakland Raiders jersey taped to the ground to the left of Kaepernick’s 49ers jersey.

After someone who saw the display complained on the bar’s Facebook page that the arrangement of the names could be construed as a message calling for violence against Kaepernick, the station reports bar owner Jason Burle switched the jerseys’ placement.

Burle tells the station he meant no personal harm by the display. He says the jerseys were put there to protest NFL players kneeling during the national anthem and insists “it’s not a race thing.”

Herschel Walker says ‘everyone needs to stand’ for national anthem

Former NFL star Herschel Walker says that, if he were commissioner, he would tell players to stand during the playing of the national anthem and he would protest beside them off the field.

In a Friday interview with TMZ Sports, Walker said he wasn’t trying to minimize the issues of race or police brutality, but the NFL is a business and needs to be treated as such.

>> Read more trending news

“If you want to protest, protest off the job,” Walker said. “Where was everyone before the season started? I didn’t see anyone protesting in front of the White House, protesting in front of Congress or protesting in front of police officers. Why did we wait until football season started then we start this again? 

“If you got to be behind it, you got to be behind it all the way.”

Such protests during the national anthem began to gain attention when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began sitting, then kneeling, during the anthem at preseason NFL games.

Walker, who has been a Trump supporter, said after examples like Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett being wrongfully profiled and handcuffed by Las Vegas police, the country needs to be responsible.

“Everyone needs to stand. Everyone needs to be respectful,” Walker said. “And then what I’d do is, ‘Guys, during the offseason, if you want to go walk the picket line in front of Congress, I will be right there with you, because black lives do matter.”

The former Heisman Trophy winner said it’s time for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to get involved and make a league-wide rule outlawing protesting on the field and taking a knee during the national anthem. He also said that the blame can not be placed on Trump.

“The way he says things ... sometimes I disagree with him, but he’s still my leader,” he said.

Redskins Keith Marshall, Rob Kelly buy Xbox One for boy wearing Kaepernick jersey

Washington Redskins running backs Keith Marshall and Rob Kelley made one 10-year-old boy very happy during a chance meeting at an Ashburn, Virginia, Gamestop Tuesday.

The Washington Post reported that when Jaden Watts, 10, walked into the store to ask about the price of the Xbox One, Kelley and Marshall complimented him on his Colin Kaepernick 49ers jersey.

>> Read more trending news

According to Kelley, Marshall overheard the boy mention saving up for the gaming console and asked his teammate about pitching in to get it for him then and there.

“I was cool with it,” Kelley told the Post. “I wish someone would’ve done something like that for me when I was growing up. His family is probably able to do whatever they want, but everybody is not able to have the stuff that we have the luxury of having. … To make an impact on somebody, I have no problem with it.”

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

Jaden ran to his grandmother, Saundra Watts, for permission. Watts was getting her makeup done nearby.

“He’s jumping up and down, saying, ‘Nana! Nana! Nana! These two guys want to buy me an Xbox. You’ve got to come right now,’” Watts said.

“The first thing I’m thinking is there’s some pedophile trying to buy my grandson an Xbox,” she said. “So I’m like, I’m going to bust up in there and bust his bubble.”

But the two had nothing but good intentions and bought Jaden the console and a copy of “NBA 2K18.”

“The next morning, he woke up and looked at me and said, ‘Nana, I had a dream that I was in a GameStop and two Redskins players bought me an Xbox.’ I said, ‘That wasn’t a dream, you dodo, that really happened,’” Watts told The Post. “It was un-be-lievable. Unbelievable. He’s just such a good kid and it was just such a blessing. It was just so wonderful, the experience of a lifetime.”

In a post on Facebook, Joey Snapp said he was also at the store and saw the players speaking to Jaden.

Snapp’s post was covered by the Redskins Blog and shared on the team’s Twitter page

Read more at The Washington Post.

Alabama football coach Nick Saban: NFL protests not meant to disrespect veterans, military

The question came off as a loaded one.

A fan, who identified himself as a retired veteran, called in to the weekly Nick Saban radio show on Thursday to ask the University of Alabama football coach for his opinion on the NFL protests and whether Saban’s former players who have protested would be welcome back in the locker room or on the sideline.

>> Read more trending news

As Saban did during his Monday news conference, he began his response with the “I’m just a football coach” line.

“I don’t have all the answers to the problems that we have in society,” he said.

>> Related: Donald Trump says NFL anthem protesters should be ‘off the field’ and fired

The topic of football players kneeling in protest during the national anthem has dominated the sports landscape since former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first took a knee last year in protest of police brutality against minorities. Scrutiny intensified after President Donald Trump last week called the protests disrespectful and suggested that players who don’t stand during the anthem should be fired.

“The one thing that’s a little disappointing to me is something that has always been real unifying … is no longer that way,” Saban said Thursday. “That is a little bothersome to me. I don’t think that what these people are doing is in any way, shape or form are meant to disrespect a veteran or somebody like yourself, who has worked so hard, fought so hard and sacrificed so much for all of us to have the quality of life that we want to have.

>> Related: Steelers fans burn memorabilia over national anthem stance

“But one of the things that you also fought for and made sacrifice for was that we all could have the freedom to have choice in terms of what we believe, what we did and what we said. This is not something -- look, I respect people’s individual rights. I have my opinion in terms of what I would do and how I would do (it). I would not want to ever disrespect the symbols that represent the values of our country. But, I also respect individual differences that other people have. I think they have the right to express those. Whether it’s our players or somebody else, whether I agree or disagree, I think they have the right to do that.”

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

College football players stay in the locker room during the national anthem.

No. 1 Alabama hosts Ole Miss on Saturday at 9 p.m. EDT.

The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

NFL national anthem singer quits job due to 'fans who attack players for protesting'

An Army veteran and member of the Maryland Army National Guard who was also the national anthem singer for the Baltimore Ravens announced Tuesday night that he is quitting his job because he feels he “do(es) not belong there,” The Baltimore Sun reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Joey Odoms posted on Instagram that he was resigning “as the Official National Anthem Singer of the Baltimore Ravens” because “the tone/actions of a large number of NFL fans in the midst of our country’s cultural crisis, have convinced me that I do not belong there.”

Odoms said he didn’t feel welcomed because of “fans who attack players for protesting.”

>> Related: ‘Get off your knees’ widow of ‘American sniper’ Chris Kyle tells NFL players

“Fans who attack players for protesting -- a right in which I fought to defend -- but are simply not interested in understanding why, is the reason I am resigning,” he wrote. “Someone once told me to always ‘go where you’re welcomed.’ This is not an emotional reaction to recent events, rather an ethical decision that part of me regrets but my core knows is the right choice.”

According to The Washington Post, Odoms served tours in Afghanistan. The Ravens accepted his resignation, saying, “We greatly appreciate the work Joey did for us, and we thank him.”

Odoms had been singing the national anthem for the Ravens since 2014.

Deshaun Watson gives first NFL paycheck to stadium workers affected by Hurricane Harvey

Houston Texans rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson donated his first NFL game check Wednesday afternoon to three team employees who lost everything during Hurricane Harvey.

>> Watch the video here

The three employees Watson helped work in the team cafeteria at NRG Stadium. With a base salary of $465,000 in 2017, the former Clemson star and 2017 first-round pick is set to earn $29,062.50 per game. Because of Watson’s generosity, each of the women received close to $10,000.

>> How to help Hurricane Maria victims: Where to donate, how to volunteer and more

“For what y’all do for us every day, and never complain. I really appreciate y’all,” Watson told the employees, according to HoustonTexans.com. “I wanted to give my first game check to y’all to help y’all out in some type of way. Hopefully that helps you out and helps you get back on your feet. Anything else y’all need, I’m always here to help.”

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

For those who have followed Watson’s football career, this act of kindness should come as no surprise.

>> Read more trending news

Watson has settled in nicely as Houston’s starting quarterback. He had an impressive performance in his second career NFL start against the New England Patriots in Week 3, and his play will likely be the deciding factor in whether the Texans return to the postseason in 2017.

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