Now, by leaving and apparently doing so at Trump's instigation, Pence is reigniting the controversy, potentially sparking another round of demonstrations by players and ensuring the fight over the anthem protests continues for another week at least. Colts players wore T-shirts drawing attention to equality and justice and stood with their arms locked during the anthem.
He also posted a picture of himself and his wife, Karen, standing during the anthem.
The controversial practice of taking a knee was started by former-San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has yet to be signed to a new team after his contract with the 49ers expired past year.
The Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers played in front of a smaller crowd after a national anthem protest Sunday. "I asked the vice-president Pence to leave the stage if players put a knee on the ground [during the national anthem], a lack of respect for our country", he wrote on his Twitter account.
Mr Pence said he could not be present at an event that "disrespects our soldiers, our flag" after abandoning the game in his home state of Indiana. "I am proud of him and @SecondLady Karen", Trump tweeted.
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He said he doesn't think it's too much to ask NFL players to respect the flag and national anthem. "He has never discussed this with anyone".
Pence later issued a statement opposing the protest on Twitter.
United States vice president Mike Spence walked out of an NFL game as players kneeled during the national anthem.
At a campaign rally in Alabama last month, Trump shouted, "Wouldn't you love to see one of these National Football League owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, "Get that son of a bitch off the field right now"?" he said to roaring applause. During Trump's tirade, he called such a player a "son of a bitch" setting off yet another round of protests from players, and backlash from the entire National Football League community who defended the players right to freedom of expression and panned Trump's comments as inappropriate.
Mike Pence has not supported the " Take a knee " (kneel). That's not an affordable thing to do.