Over the past year players in the National Football League have taken the opportunity to exercise their Constitutional right to peacefully protest inequality and injustice by sitting down or kneeling on one knee during the singing of the National Anthem prior to football games.
During a speech in Alabama on Sept 22 the U.S. President of the United States – Donald Trump – used a campaign rally to pontificate on the protest by NFL players. According to Trump, the NFL owners should fire every player that does not stand during the Anthem and referred to the players as “sons of bitches.”
By Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America – Donald Trump, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56646275
Erroneously assuming that the protests are aimed at the American flag, Trump said, “wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” He also encouraged fans to walk out of the games saying, “if you see it, even if it’s one player, leave the stadium, I guarantee things will stop.”
Trump’s tirade evoked immediate responses from the NFL owners and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell…
By Ted Kerwin – originally posted to Flickr by Ted Kerwin,image_url, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9451387
Via a statement, New York Giants owners John Mara and Steve Tisch called the remarks, “inappropriate, offensive and divisive” saying, “comments like we heard last night from the president are inappropriate, offensive, and divisive. We are proud of our players, the vast majority of whom use their NFL platform to make a positive difference in our society.”
By Stephenrossbeachhigh.jpg: Fredler Brave, taken by me at the event.derivative work: Materialscientist – This file was derived fromStephenrossbeachhigh.jpg:, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18788823
Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said, “our country needs unifying leadership right now, not more divisiveness. We need to seek to understand each other and have civil discourse instead of condemnation and sound bites. I know our players who kneeled for the anthem and these are smart young men of character who want to make our world a better place for everyone. They wanted to start a conversation and are making a difference in our community, including working with law enforcement to bring people together. We all can benefit from learning, listening and respecting each other. Sports is a common denominator in our world. We all have the responsibility to use this platform to promote understanding, respect and equality.”
By Web Summit – Sportsfile (Web Summit), CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45067171
San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York stated, “the callous and offensive remarks made by the President are contradictory to what this great country stands for. Our players have exercised their rights as United States citizens in order to spark conversation and action to address social injustice. We will continue to support them in their peaceful pursuit of positive change in our country and around the world. The San Francisco 49ers will continue to work toward bringing communities, and those who serve them, closer together.”
By Thomson200 – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50408553
Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank stated, “creating division or demonizing viewpoints that are different than our own accomplishes nothing positive and undermines our collective ability to achieve the ideals of our democracy.”
By David Wilson – Flickr: 19981213 05 Lambeau Field, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21323017
Green Bay Packers’ Mark Murphy noted, “as Americans, we are fortunate to be able to speak openly and freely.”
By Tennessee Titans – http://www.sportslogos.net/logos/view/16026531999/Tennessee_Titans/1999/Alternate_Logo, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42612199
Tennessee Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk said, “our players make public contributions day-in and day-out and when I hear anyone making disparaging remarks about them, I know it has to be the result of not knowing what they bring to our communities or what they have accomplished.”
By SSG Teddy Wade – U.S. Defense website, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51388725
Commissioner Goodell said the remarks were “divisive” and “demonstrate a lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players.”
And the players themselves went all out to express their feelings toward Trump’s remarks with massive displays of peaceful protest with entire teams locking arms, only one member of the Pittsburgh Steelers came out on the field for the Anthem with the remainder staying in the locker room, and there was a marked increase in players taking a knee.
It is estimated that this season the NFL will bring in a record $14 Billion in revenue. That number includes over $1.5 billion in corporate sponsorships.
NFL sponsor Under Armour stated in a tweet that they, “stand by the flag and by our athletes.”
On September 23, catcher for the Oakland Athletics Bruce Maxwell became the first player from Major League Baseball to kneel during the National Anthem prior to the game with the Texas Rangers. Earlier in the day Maxwell released a profane laced tirade on Instagram aimed at Trump.
The NFL hasn’t been the only sporting organization to be the target of a Trump tweet; after Golden State Warrior Stephen Curry expressed his intent not to attend a visit to the White House by the NBA champions, Trump uninvited the NBA champions.
Share with your friendsFollow Us