Trump draws criticism for attacking NFL protests; Goodell ‘proud’ of demonstrations

UPDATE — 9/28, 4:18 p.m. EDT: Disagreement between Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill regarding the latest NFL protests came the forefront Thursday, as Speaker Paul Ryan labeled kneeling during the national anthem “misguided”, because it targets the wrong symbols.

Contrarily, Congressional Black Caucus chairman, Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), sent a letter to Donald Trump Wednesday, in which the congressman accused the president of a “calculated, divisive response to nationwide demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice by professional football players”.

“You personally add insult to injury with the racist dog whistles you employ,
such as calling for ‘law and order’ in underserved, neglected communities across America while concurrently encouraging police brutality,” he continued. 

 

At a political rally in Huntsville, Ala., on Friday, President Trump vehemently criticized NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem, as has become a trend since the 2016 season.

Trump decried the decision to kneel, calling it “a total disrespect of our heritage, a total disrespect of everything we stand for” and encouraged NFL owners to fire the players who kneel.

“Get that son of a b—- off the field – out! He’s fired. He’s fired!” Trump said.

The president also encouraged fans who witnessed players kneeling to pick up and leave the stadium.

NBC sportcaster Bob Costas explained that “the initial impetus . . . for [kneeling during the national anthem] came from Colin Kaepernick and it was about police brutality and mistreatment of African Americans.”

However, Trump maintained on Twitter that kneeling during the national anthem is about disrespecting America and not about social injustices related to race.

In a statement posted on the league’s official website Saturday, Commissioner Roger Goodell defended the NFL and its players for their positive contributions.

“Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities,” he wrote. 

Trump fired back at Goodell on Twitter:

In response to Trump’s comments, other prominent NFL figures took Goodell’s lead to admonish the president.

New York Giants co-owners John Mara and Steve Tish called the President’s remarks “inappropriate, offensive and divisive.”

Even Trump’s own supporters condemned him. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, a personal friend of the president, expressed disagreement on a Boston radio show.

On Sunday, following Trump’s attack, more than 200 NFL players banded in solidarity. Some knelt, while others locked arms. Others went as far as to opt out of the anthem ceremony entirely, speaking out silently and peacefully against Trump thru their absence.

Responding to Sunday’s display, Goodell told Sports Illustrated he was “proud of our league.”

“I spent a lot of time listening to our players and coaches and owners over the past two days,” Goodell said Sunday evening. “I was trying to find out with the players and coaches, ‘How are you feeling? What’s going on in your locker rooms?’ They were trying to figure out ways to respond.”

“They reflected the frustration, the disappointment, of the players over the divisive rhetoric we heard [from the president],” he continued.

Watch Trump’s comments that got the controversy started below.

 

[Time] [The Hill] [CNN] [AP] [Sports Illustrated] [Photo Courtesy Brad Mills/USA Today Sports via Reuters]

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