NFL players protesting in response to Trump criticism

What began as a single backup quarterback kneeling during the national anthem in a preseason game has mushroomed in the past 13 months to a nationwide movement, one that’s spread from the football field to the White House and forced America to deal with questions of free speech and patriotism.

But President Donald Trump ratched the conversation to a higher level on Friday night when he called for the firing of kneeling players. The NFL responded to Trump’s statement by defending its players, and Trump in turn shot back at the NFL over the course of several tweets.

Jay Busbee

From locking arms to kneeling, NFL players and teams responded to those comments on Sunday.

NFL anthem reactions

Terrance Smith #48, Eric Fisher #72, Demetrius Harris #84, and Cameron Erving #75 of the Kansas City Chiefs is seen taking a knee before the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at the StubHub Center on September 24, 2017 in Carson, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

NFL anthem reactions

Officials stand on the sideline of the Seattle Seahawks during the playing of the national anthem before an NFL football game between the Seahawks and the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. Neither team came out onto the field for the anthem. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

NFL anthem reactions

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) and center Justin Britt (68) walk to the field with arms linked after the national anthem had been played before an NFL football game between the Seahawks and the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. Neither team was present on the field for the playing of the anthem. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

NFL anthem reactions

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Eric Weems (14) and wide receiver Darius Jennings (15) walk to the field with arms linked after the national anthem had been played before an NFL football game between the Titans and the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. Neither team was present on the field for the playing of the anthem. (AP Photo/James Kenney)

NFL anthem reactions

Some of the Miami Dolphins take a knee during the anthem prior to the game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

NFL anthem reactions

Members of the Cleveland Browns stand and kneel during the national anthem before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 24, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

NFL anthem reactions

Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Marcus Peters (22) protests next to running back Charcandrick West (35) and defensive tackle Roy Miller (98) during the National Anthem prior to the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at StubHub Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

NFL anthem reactions

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, left, and Tom Brady (12) Phillip Dorsett (13) Matthew Slater, second from right, and David Harris (45) stand during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

NFL anthem reactions

Members of the Green Bay Packers stand with arms locked as a sign of unity during the national anthem prior to their game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Lambeau Field on September 24, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

NFL anthem reactions

Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Mike Wallace, from left, former player Ray Lewis and inside linebacker C.J. Mosley lock arms and kneel down during the playing of the U.S. national anthem before an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium in London, Sunday Sept. 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

NFL anthem reactions

Members of the Los Angeles Chargers link arms during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Carson, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

NFL anthem reactions

Denver Bronco players kneel in protest during the National Anthem before a game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

NFL anthem reactions

Members of the Cincinnati Bengals stand with arms locked as a sign of unity during the national anthem prior to their game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on September 24, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

NFL anthem reactions

The Houston Texans stand for the national anthem before the start of the game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

NFL anthem reactions

Indianapolis Colts players kneel during the playing of the National Anthem before the game against the Cleveland Browns at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

NFL anthem reactions

The Pittsburgh Steelers side of the field is nearly empty during the playing of the national anthem before an NFL football game between the Steelers and Chicago Bears, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

NFL anthem reactions

Several New England Patriots players kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

NFL anthem reactions

Jacksonville Jaguars players kneel down during the playing of the U.S. national anthem before an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens at Wembley Stadium in London, Sunday Sept. 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

NFL anthem reactions

Protestors kneel outside U.S. Bank Stadium before the Minnesota Vikings game in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The protest, in support of Colin Kaepernick, comes days after disparaging statements made by President Donald Trump about players taking a knee during the National Anthem. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

NFL anthem reactions

Philadelphia Eagles players and owners Jeffrey Lurie stand for the national anthem before an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Philadelphia. Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins is seen raising his fist next to Lurie. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

NFL anthem reactions

Baltimore Ravens players, including former player Ray Lewis, second from right, kneel down during the playing of the U.S. national anthem before an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium in London, Sunday Sept. 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

NFL anthem reactions

Baltimore Ravens players, including former player Ray Lewis, second from right, kneel down during the playing of the U.S. national anthem before an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium in London, Sunday Sept. 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

NFL anthem reactions

Fans watch the unfurled U.S flag on the field during the playing of the national anthem before an NFL football game between the Chicago Bears and Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Chicago. The Pittsburgh Steelers players did not come out to the field during the anthem. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

NFL anthem reactions

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) and wide receiver Mike Evans (13) kneel for the national anthem before the game against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

NFL anthem reactions

Buffalo Bills players take a knee during the playing of the national anthem prior to an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Orchard Park, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

NFL anthem reactions

Recording artist Meghan Linsey kneels after singing the national anthem before the game between the Tennessee Titans and the Seattle Seahawks at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

NFL anthem reactions

Buffalo Bills players kneel in protest during the National Anthem before a game against the Denver Broncos at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

NFL anthem reactions

Minnesota Vikings defensive back Harrison Smith (22) locks arms with general manager Rick Spielman (left) and owner Mark Wilf (middle) and owner Ziggy Wilf (right) before the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports