The common reference being thrown around the past few days is you must separate your sports from politics. When the President of the United States makes an attack on players in the NFL who exercise their right to peacefully protest, the Sports world was bound to make its feelings heard about Trump and his comments.
In a league with so many different backgrounds in a locker room, races, and religions, it’s very important to have an open mind and to respect other opinions in politics, and usually, it is best to keep all opinions and thoughts out of the locker room.
But Trump put the entire NFL on notice when at a rally in Alabama on Friday, September 22nd, 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” Trump went on to call for the owners to “FIRE” any player who makes a protest. These are not his first comments on the issue of protesting the National Anthem. At a rally in Kentucky in March, he mentioned Colin Kaepernick by name and bragged that no team in the league wanted to sign Kaepernick because they didn’t want to get a “nasty tweet” from Trump criticizing the team for signing him. So after his comments, and a various amount of tweets later, how did the NFL, and the players react to the President comments?
Rodger Goodell immediately responded to Trump comments in complete defense of the players, and their right to exercise freedom of speech. In a statement, Goodell called Trump’s comments “divisive” and said they “demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game, and all our players. The critical response got Trump fired up even more on the issue, and he went to Twitter saying to Goodell ” Put out a statement trying to justify the total disrespect certain players show to our country”.
NFL players have made it clear, they are not taking a knee to disrespect our flag, or our country, but to make a statement about racial injustice. This movement was started by Colin Kaepernick who protested every game last season for the 49ers and had players around the league follow in his footsteps all season. Kaepernick has put his money where his mouth is, as he had donated $800K to empower oppressed communities and also vowed to donate all proceeds from his 2016 jersey sales. Kaepernick was just the first to step up and try to make his voice heard, but he certainly has not been the last, since Trump and his recent comments.
Immediately after Trump’s rally in Alabama started hitting the internet, and teams/players across the league saw what he said, they wasted no time to head to Twitter to share their disgust of Trump’s comments.
Players such as Zach Brown, Eric Ebron, Thomas Davis, Rishard Matthews, T.J. Ward, and Brandon Marshall of the Broncos are just a few of the players to come out against Trump. Much of the league is so outraged at Trump not only for his disrespect towards the players in the league for using their right to protest, but for harsh name calling of “Son of a bitch” compared to “very fine people” which he used to describe KKK members and Neo-Nazis after the horrific events in Charlottesville.
A wide variety of players were critical of Trump after those comments, none more than Eagles DE Chris Long, who lives in Charlottesville. Va. Long has vowed to donate his first six game checks of the 2017 to his hometown, and has said ” I don’t think Donald Trump has done a good enough job” after the attacks and said on Sunday, after Long and many Eagles all locked Arms in protest, ” He’s the President and that is not his job to fire NFL players”. But after the comments, and two days of tweets later, it was the players all around the league to make their voices heard, and they did in a big way.
This Sunday, after all the controversy was stirred up by the President for players using their right to protest, the league as a whole decided to take action and protest not only the racial injustice in the country, but it was clear the protest all throughout the league was about protesting the President himself.
In the Ravens/Jaguars game in London, Jags owner, Shahid Khan, joined his team on the field in locked arms, as most of the Ravens sidelines were on one knee. As many teams chose to do something similar to show their protest, the Steelers decided to not come out of the locker room at all for the National Anthem. The Seahawks and Titans both followed up with the move as well, as no players were on the Sideline during the pre-game National Anthem. Then, on Sunday night after the Redskins victory, in a post-game interview with NBC, Josh Norman made it clear what the team was protesting. He said he felt the team had to do something because of “tyranny we face behind the POTUS” but said, “At the end of the day, the United won, and nobody is going to divide us.” The league has rallied around each other and shown support for not only Collin Kaepernick and his racial injustice movement but came together to prove a point to the President of the United States.
Trump has made himself the number one story in sports, which started with his son of a bitch comments during his rally. Then he found himself in a controversial situation with Warriors star Stephen Curry, after Curry said he would not be attending the White House, so Trump took to Twitter to “withdraw the invitation”.
Many players throughout the league wasted no time taking shots at the President, including Lebron James who tweeted “U BUM” saying “Curry already said he ain’t going! So, therefore, ain’t no invite. Going to the White House was a great honor until you showed up!”. These statements from Lebron and consistent backlash Trump has received from the sports world, has caused Trump to go on to various Twitter rants about the two leagues, totaling over 17 in the past two days alone.
The question I ask is, at what point does Trump go too far, and overstep his boundaries as President? Or has he already?
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