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September 25, 2017

Amid kneeling and fist raising, Kellyanne Conway praises anthem, 'enormous' flag at Eagles game

Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway praised parts of the Philadelphia Eagles' national anthem ceremony that occurred before Sunday's game but made no direct comment on the Eagles players, personnel and team's owner standing arm-in-arm united against comments made by her boss, President Donald Trump.

Conway, who hails from Atco, Atlantic County, retweeted a video from the Eagles' official Twitter account of the national anthem performed at the team's home opener. Along with the video, the team included the message, "[Owner] Jeffrey Lurie believes sports can be a great unifier."

In pregame photos, Lurie is seen standing, his right arm interlocked with Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham's left arm. Behind Lurie stands Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins with his fist raised.

Conway encouraged her followers to watch "this veteran's beautiful rendition of our national anthem" and to check out "the enormous American flag" that appeared on Lincoln Financial Field.

Trump's controversial comments came days earlier at an Alabama campaign rally and on Twitter and inflamed a situation that began a year ago when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt as the national anthem was played to bring attention to police brutality against minorities.

Since Kaepernick began his protests, other players across the NFL, like Jenkins, have joined in; the safety first raised his fist while the anthem was played before an Eagles game on Monday Night Football last season.

About his decision to link arms with the players, Lurie said the following according to a statement from the team published by Bleeding Green Nation:

"Every day I see the genuine dedication and hard work of our players. And I support them as they take their courage, character, and commitment into our communities to make them better or to call attention to injustice. Having spoken with our players, I can attest to the great respect they have for our national anthem and all it represents. We at the Philadelphia Eagles firmly believe that in this difficult time of division and conflict, it is more important than ever for football to be a great unifier." 

During a campaign speech in Alabama on Friday, Trump said, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b**** off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” 

The president followed up on Twitter.

The anthem at the Eagles game was sung by Retired Petty Officer 1st Class Generald Wilson, who served in the U.S. Navy. Wilson has performed the anthem at dozens of professional sports games in the last two decades and gained much notoriety ahead of an Eagles game in 2014 for delivering a "powerful" rendition of the tune around Veterans Day. 

Wilson took to Instagram on Sunday to comment on all the support he received after the performance.

"It's been real Philly! So much love!" he wrote. "The pictures taken, the handshakes, and the encouragement from you guys while walking off the field after the anthem means the world to me."