Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers post messages of 'unity' as unprecedented NFL Sunday dawns
NFL stars Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers posted tones of "unity" and "brotherhood" ahead of a gameday that is likely to send shockwaves through the United States' political spectrum.
US president Donald Trump has spent much of the past few days quarrelling with American sport stars over the decision of some players to kneel during the national anthem in protest at social injustice.
Trump said at a rally in Alabama on Friday: "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, out, he's fired!'"
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the national anthem last season - an act that many stars in other sports have since mimicked.
Players for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens locked arms in a show of solidarity as many players opted to kneel during the anthem.
The New England Patriots will be perhaps the most closely watched team during Sunday's pre-game formalities.
They were the first championship team to visit the Trump White House and owner Robert Kraft is a friend of the president's, though he issued a statement earlier on Sunday expressing his disappointment in Trump's recent comments.
With Trump at the forefront of the conversation around the NFL on Sunday after his criticism of the league's players the previous two days, Brady weighed in via Instagram by expressing fellowship with his fellow competitors.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Rodgers followed Brady's Instagram post with a similar one that contained many of the same words.