The owners of the Baltimore Ravens, the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots and other teams on Sunday joined a chorus of NFL executives criticizing President Donald Trump's suggestion that they fire players who kneel for the national anthem. 

The statements, from Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, contrasted a morning tweet from Mr. Trump and further escalated the political drama of the league's game day, which was expected to be one of the most-watched for non-sporting reasons in years.

Bisciotti said he "100 percent" supports his players' decision to kneel during the national anthem. At least seven of them did, joined by more than a dozen Jacksonville Jaguars, before the teams played at Wembley Stadium in London.

Kraft, who has been a strong backer of the president, expressed "deep disappointment" with Mr. Trump and said politicians could learn much from the unifying spirit of a competitive, team-oriented enterprise like football. 

"Our players are intelligent, thoughtful, and care deeply about our community and I support their right to peacefully affect social change and raise awareness in a manner that they feel is most impactful," Kraft said in a statement. 

A mounting number of teams were issuing statements in support of their players late Saturday and into Sunday.

Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told CBS Sports that his team would remain in the locker room during the national anthem on Sunday. "We're not going to play politics. We're football players, we're football coaches. We're not participating in the anthem today," Tomlin said.

He added, "Not to be disrespectful to the anthem, to remove ourselves from the circumstance. People shouldn't have to choose. If a guy wants to go about his normal business and participate in the anthem, he shouldn't be forced to choose sides. If a guy feels the need to do something he shouldn't be separated from his teammates who chooses not to. So we're not participating today."

Green Bay Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy said it was unfortunate that Mr. Trump used his "immense platform" to make "divisive and offensive" statements toward players and the NFL.

"We strongly believe that players are leaders in our communities and positive influences," Murphy said in a statement. "As Americans, we are fortunate to be able to speak openly and freely.

 

Continue reading at CBSNews.com.