NFL Players Association vows to stand by Muslim members

HOUSTON (Reuters) - The NFL Players Association vowed on Thursday to stand by their Muslim members a day after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell dodged a question on the matter when asked about U.S. President Donald Trump's temporary travel ban.

"Our Muslim brothers that are in our league, we have their backs. We're going to do whatever we can. And I'll go stand with them," NFLPA president and Cincinnati Bengals tackle Eric Winston said at the union's Super Bowl news conference.

"If people want to come and harass their family or whatever I'll be there with them."

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Winston said it seemed to him "that we're starting to turn away from our values as a country."

"These guys that are players in the National Football League, their families are our families. And I take that seriously. They're our brothers and we will stand with them."

NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith added: "We notified and sent information to all those families who are members of the NFL that if they need anything from their union, that we're there."

There are about a dozen Muslim players in the NFL, according to NFLPA assistant executive director George Atallah.

Trump issued an executive order last week temporarily banning citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States and placed an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees.

Goodell declined to clarify the NFL's position on the ban at his state of the league address on Wednesday.

Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu of the Atlanta Falcons is the only Muslim playing in Sunday's Super Bowl, which also features the New England Patriots.

"That's a very tough situation," the 27-year-old Sanu, who spent time growing up in Sierra Leone, said of the immigration ban at the Super Bowl Opening Night event. "I just pray that us as a country and a world can just be united as one."