INDIANAPOLIS — Vice President Mike Pence left the 49ers-Colts game after about a dozen San Francisco players took a knee during the anthem Sunday.
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.”
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.”
President Donald Trump also tweeted:
Kneeling during the anthem was brought into the mainstream by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who said it signifies a protest for racial justice.
Trump has railed against the form of protest, calling it disrespectful to the flag and to veterans. He has tweeted repeatedly on the issue, including calling for a boycott of the National Football League unless the league takes action against players who protest.
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.