CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Marvin Lewis says he's proud of how the Cincinnati Bengals handled themselves during the national anthem Sunday.
Hundreds of players across the NFL took a knee during the anthem in protest to what they view as racial inequality and police brutality in the United States.
The Bengals remained standing and locked arms in what wide receiver Brandon LaFell called a "team decision."
"I thought their statement of what they did, why, because they wanted to be respectful to the veterans, to our military, for our community here in Cincinnati," Lewis said at a press conference Monday.
He said some Bengals players have family members who have served in the military.
"This has got to be football," Lewis said when asked about the anthem protests. "Our state of the union is urgency to win football games."
In a locker room interview Monday, LaFell said the team wanted to send a unified message.
"Everybody come to the stadium to get away from things, the problems they have in life. Let's stick together, let's go out and give these people a show," LaFell said of the pregame mentality.
President Donald Trump has expressed his displeasure about how NFL players are choosing to kneel or sit for the national anthem before games. During a speech Friday, the President suggested that NFL owners fire players who kneel for the national anthem.
The Tennessee Titans, Seattle Seahawks and Pittsburgh Steelers were among the teams who did not come on the field for the national anthem.
A statement from the Seahawks said the "absence of our team for the national anthem shouldn't be misconstrued as unpatriotic."
The nation's two largest veterans groups have criticized the player protests, according to the Associated Press.