Proceeding this weekend’s NFL games, President Donald Trump had some comments on the protests started over a year ago by ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started the trend of kneeling or sitting during the national anthem in protest of police brutality towards minorities and racial discrimination.
Trump went out on Twitter with these remarks:
“If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect…our great, American Flag or Country and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”
He also called for the NFL commissioner and team owners to penalize or cut players who protest, going so far as to encourage them to “Get that son of a bitch off the field” when players protest via taking a knee or a seat. The response from the league was quick and something quite incredible.
It started early in the day, with the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars playing in London, England. They kicked off at 9:30 am, but not before both teams linked arms with players, coaches and owners for the anthem, with the entire Ravens team taking a knee. The protests continued throughout the day, with huge amounts of players in the noon games taking a knee, and almost every team standing with arms linked. Some were more extreme, as the Pittsburgh Steelers, Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans stayed in their locker rooms for the duration of the anthem. For the late night game, both the Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders took a knee as a team, from players to coaches to athletic trainers, on both sidelines. Again, with arms linked and on a knee as unified teams.
“We will not be divided by this, we’ve got a group of men in there that come from different social and economic backgrounds, different races, creeds and ethnicities,” said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin after the game against the Chicago Bears, when asked about his team staying in the locker room and the anthem protests. “That’s football , that’s a lot of team sports. But because of our position we get drug into bullshit, to be quite honest with you. So some of them have opinions and some of them don’t; we wanted to protect those that don’t and those that do. We came here to play a football game today.”
Still others protested on the field, most notably New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. imitating a urinating dog after a touchdown. Saying “If I’m a dog, I’ll act like one” to media after the game. The protest even extended past those in the league, with a powerful picture of a 97-year-old World War II veteran taking a knee with the players. Missouri farmer John Middlemas took a knee with the players in his veteran’s hat on Sunday, taking a knee to support the players.
Whether you agree with the statement of the protests, or find them disrespectful to the flag and what it stands for, the attack from Trump on the league and on players has brought the NFL together in a way we have never seen before.
All player and coaches quotes from NFL media and pressures.