By ZEKE MILLER, Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) — President Donald Trump took the field before Alabama and Georgia faced off in the College Football Playoff National Championship in Atlanta.
Tens of thousands of fans filling the $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium greeted Trump with a mixed reaction as ROTC members escorted him onto the field for the national anthem. The president stood with his hand over his heart and an American flag pin on his lapel, and sang a few words as Georgia’s Zac Brown Band and a gospel choir performed the anthem.
Trump has criticized professional football players who kneel during the anthem to protest racial injustice, as well as the NFL itself for allowing it.
“We want our flag respected,” Trump said earlier Monday during a speech in Nashville, “and we want our national anthem respected also.”
The president watched the game from a private box overlooking the Alabama sideline flanked by ROTC students. The Tuscaloosa News reported that he was scheduled to appear on the Alabama radio broadcast during the game.