Two Houston, Texas high school football players were kicked off their team after they protested the national anthem on Friday, The Houston Chronicle reported.
While the anthem played, Cedric Ingram-Lewis reportedly raised his fist while his cousin, Larry McCollough, knelt. The two played for Victory & Praise Christian Academy, the Chronicle reported.
Right after the anthem ended, head coach Ronnie Mitchem, a former Marine, asked for their uniforms and kicked them off the team. Mitchem told the Chronicle he warned the players not to kneel during the anthem because he felt it disrespects veterans.
"That was my point of view," Mitchem said. "Like I said, I'm a former Marine. That just doesn't fly and they knew that. I don't have any problem with those young men. We've had a good relationship. They chose to do that and they had to pay for the consequences."
He said he supported the two players’ protests, but wanted them to go about it differently. He even suggested kneeling after a touchdown or passing out a paper about the issues they were protesting -- but kneeling during the anthem was off limits.
Rhonda Brady, Lewis’ mother, said she supported the players’ protests and called Mitchem’s decision too extreme.
"I'm definitely going to have a conversation because I don't like the way that that was handled," Brady told the Chronicle. "But I don't want them back on the team. A man with integrity and morals and ethics and who truly lives by that wouldn't have done anything like that.”
Protesting the national anthem was thrust back into the spotlight last week after President Donald Trump sparked outrage for his comments about football players who kneel during the national anthem.
“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,’” Trump said at a rally. “‘He is fired.’”
Since Trump made the comments, players and team owners have begun kneeling or linking arms in protest -- some players in the NBA spoke out against Trump as well.
The recent protests started after ex San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick protested police brutality and racial inequality in the U.S. in 2016 by remaining seated or kneeling during the national anthem. Kaepernick has not been signed to an NFL team since becoming a free agent.