President Trump lit the sports world on fire with a series of comments and tweets in the last 24 hours. During a rally in Huntsville, Alabama on Friday, the president made it clear where he stands on player protests. Trump said he would love to see NFL owners cut any player who protests by kneeling during the national anthem.
“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 said to a cheering crowd. “Out. He’s fired. He’s fired.”
After NFL commissioner Goodell called Trump’s comments, “divisive,” and accused the president of a “failure to understand the overwhelming force for good,” Trump doubled down on his comments
“Roger Goodell of NFL just put out a statement trying to justify the total disrespect certain players show to our country,” Trump tweeted on September 23. “Tell them to stand!” he added.
If you are unaware of the situation, last season Former NFL Quarterback Colin Kaepernick started to kneel during the national anthem to protest what he called ‘systematic racism by law enforcement in the United States’. After groups like Black Lives Matter and other players supported him, the national anthem protest became the #1 story of the season. The problem is many fans took the protest as an attack on the country and what the country stands for, so the divide had started. The NFL has supported the players right to protest in the past, but with Trump’s comment they now have a dilemma and they won’t win either way.
If NFL players protest the anthem tomorrow in the wake of Trump’s comments, fans of the NFL who are already upset with the protest might see it as the last straw to give up on the NFL product and ratings have been down the last couple of years. If the NFL listens to Trump and tries to downplay the protest, the backlash of left-wing activist groups like BLM and others will be swift and loud. The NFL might not like it, but they have the problem on their hands and they have to pick a side. Take the fight to Trump at the possible expense of their fanbase or take a stand for their profit margin and distance themselves from the Anthem Protests.
Roger Goodell is not a popular figure with NFL fans. He is usually heavily booed by fans whenever he shows his face. He went to war with Tom Brady the last couple of seasons, he’s mishandled player suspensions and fines as well as dealt with the NFL’s concussion scandal. Not to mention the league’s decisions on moving the Raiders to Las Vegas and the Chargers to Los Angeles have angered fans all over the country. But this coming week is D-Day time for the league as Week 3 of the NFL could change the course of the league for the foreseeable future.