Facing steady protests from the NFL on Sunday, Donald Trump doubled down on his criticism of the league and players who choose to protest during the national anthem on Saturday night. As a result of the increased criticism from The White House, several owners and coaches also joined players in showing support for the protests online.
The president’s latest comments came late on Saturday night alongside his latest threats against North Korea, adding to surreal nature of the moment. He echoes much of what he said during his rally appearance on Friday night, adding a call to fans to boycott the league until owners and coaches decide to “fire or suspend” players who protest. He also decides to lean on ratings, one of his favorite topics, to point out that the NFL should back the United States instead of the players he feels are “disrespecting” the flag:
It even became a topic of discussion on the Sunday talk show circuit, with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin standing by the president’s comments and adding more wrinkles to the discussion by questioning when they can express their first amendment rights according to ABC News:
“This isn’t about Democrats. It’s not about Republicans. It’s not about race; it’s not about free speech. They can do free speech on their own time,” the treasury secretary said. “This is about respect for the military and first responders and the country.”
The divisive stance taken by the president and his administration has rubbed many the wrong way in the league and across the sports world, with many across the NFL planning to take action during the games on Sunday. After Saturday’s comments from players, the league, and the Players Association, several of the league’s noteworthy owners spoke out. The most notable might be Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a note supporter of the president that shared his disappointment in the comments made in Alabama on Friday:
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll also shared a statement, becoming the first head coach in the league to speak out according to Adam Schefter, saying the time to stay quiet is over and people must “take a stand”:
Several players and teams also hinted that they will stand alongside their teammates on Sunday, with Aaron Rodgers joining his comments in ESPN earlier in the season by sharing this photo expressing solidarity with those protesting:
And the Oakland Raiders will use the primetime stage to make one of the biggest statements of the day:
Several more teams and players are sure to join in, with the Jaguars and Ravens setting the tone with their actions in London. With the season only just getting started, you’d have to expect this to only gain more traction from here.