“I asked Vice President Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country. I am proud of him and Second Lady Karen,” the US president tweeted.
Eric Reid, a 49ers player who began kneeling alongside Colin Kaepernick more than a year ago, called Mr Pence’s departure a “PR stunt”.
“He knew our team has had the most players protest. He knew that we were probably going to do it again. This is what systemic oppression looks like,” he said, according to NBC.
“A man with power comes to the game, tweets a couple of things out and leaves the game with an attempt to thwart our efforts.”
The kneeling protest began last year when the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Kaepernick took a knee in response to what he saw as growing racial inequality in the US. He later lost his professional contract and has not played since.