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Teams kept off the field during national anthem as Trump visits the national title game

Posted: 8:44 PM, Jan 08, 2018
Updated: 2018-01-09 09:41:00Z

Update 10:31 p.m. ET: The College Football Playoff responded to a request for comment, saying the decision to keep the teams in the locker room was made on November 1. 

"The teams were in the locker rooms during the national anthem to be consistent with the regular season and CFP semifinals," CFP Chair Bill Hancock said in a statement. "It's what the players and coaches are used to. We made the decision November 1."

Although teams did not participate in the national anthem during the two national semifinal games, regular season games differ by conference. For instance, players were on the field for the Big Ten title game in December during the national anthem, but players were in the locker room during the national anthem at the Big 12 title game.

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With President Donald Trump on the field during the national anthem, players representing Alabama and Georgia in the fourth College Football Playoff National Championship remained off the field on Monday. 

Trump, who stood on the field of Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, was joined by members of the ROTC units of the two colleges in the national title game. Trump kept his hand over his heart during the national anthem, and appeared to have sang along to parts of the song.

In the four years of the College Football Playoff, this was the first time in a national title game the teams were not on the field during the national anthem. 

Earlier in the season, Trump called attention to NFL players who refused to stand during the national anthem. Trump said on Sept. 23 that NFL players should be fired if they do not stand for the national anthem. 

In October, Vice President Mike Pence walked out of an Indianapolis Colts game after two members of the opposing 49ers team kneeled during the anthem. 

The protests during the national anthem began in earnest in 2016 when Colin Kaepernick announced he would not stand for the national anthem. Kapernick cited examples of police brutality and racism as his reason.