Following a quickly escalating feud between the President of the United States and our nation’s athletic institutions, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell denounced Trump today with a scathing statement.
“The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture,” Goodell said. “There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we’ve experienced over the last month. 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.”
Trump, not one to escape without getting the last word, lashed out on Twitter.
Roger Goodell of NFL just put out a statement trying to justify the total disrespect certain players show to our country.Tell them to stand!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
While he tries to frame peaceful protesting as “total disrespect” to our country, the President of the United States seems to overlook the fact that players who kneel during the National Anthem are not only using their First Amendment rights to freely express themselves, but following a long line of brave athletes to enact change and dialogue through their actions.
According to Bleacher Report:
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started to kneel during the anthem during last year’s preseason. He was later joined by various athletes as a show of unity.
Kaepernick explained his actions to Steve Wyche of NFL.com in August 2016.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” he said. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Kaepernick, who opted out of his contract with the Niners in March, has been unable to find a new team and remains a free agent with the 2017 season now in Week 3.
During Trump’s unhinged speech at his rally in Alabama yesterday – during which he was supposed to be campaigning for Republican candidate Luther Strange ahead of next week’s Republican Senate primary runoff – the President’s attention instead turned to the issue of NFL players kneeling.
Trump’s wholly inappropriate and divisive remarks were met with a barrage of criticism from professional athletes, coaches, league officials, and fans. The incident even sparked a movement in which dozens more players have decided to take a knee during the National Anthem in solidarity with their fellow league-mates this Sunday.
35 new players will be demonstrating tomorrow. https://t.co/MdC7VIQ19q
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) September 23, 2017
While Trump may have been hoping to sow the seeds of division in America, it seems that the entire NFL and its fans are banding together in opposition to this glaring failure of a presidency.