Trump questions NFL commish over potential national anthem protests

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals
Members of the San Francisco 49ers kneel during the National Anthem prior to a game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Editor’s note: This first appeared on

United States President Donald Trump took time during his Twitter session early Monday morning to call out NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who encouraged players to peacefully protest in a video released over the weekend.

“Could it be even remotely possible that in Roger Goodell’s rather interesting statement of peace and reconciliation, he was intimating that it would now be O.K. for the players to KNEEL, or not to stand, for the National Anthem, thereby disrespecting our Country & our Flag?” President Trump pondered.

Amid the George Floyd protests that have swept across the United States for 12-straight days, Goodell admitted that he and the NFL were wrong in not properly paying attention to the concerns involving race around football and urged those around the league to “speak out.”

“Without black players, there would be no National Football League and the protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality, and oppression of black players, coaches, fans, and staff,” Goodell said.

He did not, however, directly address the subject of kneeling for the national anthem, which was brought up by President Trump.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick revolutionized such a demonstration on NFL sidelines during the 2016 season, which was met with harsh criticism — most notably from Trump, who cited that he was disrespecting the flag and the veterans who fought to protect it.

Kaepernick, however, consulted retired Army Green Beret Nate Boyer before deciding to kneel, making it clear that there was no disrespect intended — just the protest of police brutality against black Americans.

“I’m not anti-America,” Kaepernick told reporters. “I love America. I love people. That’s why I’m doing this. I want to help make America better. I think having these conversations helps everybody have a better understanding of where everybody is coming from.”

While Kaepernick has been unable to find a job in the NFL since he opted out of the final year of his contract in 2017, players around the NFL — later followed by other leagues — continued the movement.

It perturbed Trump so much that he publicly hoped that NFL owners would say “get that son of a b— off the field right now.”

Kaepernick’s peaceful protest returned to the forefront of the national conversation in recent weeks after some protests surrounding Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin descended into violent riots — with activists citing recent events as an unfortunate byproduct of those in power chastising or ignoring Kaepernick’s protest.

Kneeling looks set to return to NFL pregame ceremonies in 2020 as long as there is a national anthem being played. Washington Redskins veteran running back Adrian Peterson said over the weekend that “we’re all ready to take a knee together going into this season without a doubt.”

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