Pence Leaves Colts Game Early Because of Players Kneeling for National Anthem

Vice President Mike Pence/ Twitter Screenshot

Vice President Mike Pence left an NFL game between the Indianapolis Colts and San Francisco 49ers early on Sunday because several 49ers players knelt during the national anthem and he did not want to "dignify any event" where the flag or military was disrespected.

"I left today's Colts game because @POTUSĀ and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem," Pence tweeted shortly afterward.

Pence, who served as Indiana's governor before being elected Vice President, attended the game in Indianapolis with his wife, Karen.

According to CNN, the journalists accompanying Pence were not allowed in the stadium but were told by a staffer that there could be an "early departure" from the game, suggesting Pence planned to leave early all along because of the expected protest.

It's the latest shot traded between the Trump administration and NFL players who have mimicked former San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick's protest by not standing for the national anthem. Trump has blasted players who do not stand for the anthem and encouraged a boycott of the NFL by fans in response.

Trump tweeted Sunday he had asked Pence to leave the stadium early if any such protests occurred and that he was "proud" of Pence and his wife for doing so.

Before the game, Pence tweeted a photo of himself and his wife at a Colts game, although the picture was reportedly from 2014.

After he left, he tweeted out a photo of himself standing for the national anthem, writing "we were proud to stand."

The Colts ultimately won the game, 26-23.