The president has proven himself extremely averse to the idea of allowing professional athletes to exercise their right to free speech and take a knee during the national anthem on behalf of African Americans.
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, the president called up Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones four times ahead of his team’s game last Monday, “imploring him not to kneel” upon the playing of the national anthem. These calls apparently came while Jones was in the locker room with his team ahead of the anthem. The president revealed he had been in contact with Jones on Twitter — but he didn’t reveal the details about his harassment.
Trump’s obsession over the issue did not pay off, with the entirety of the Dallas Cowboys team — including Jones — briefly locking arms and taking a knee before the anthem played. The team stood up normally when the anthem actually played.
Not even the fact that Jones is apparently a past supporter of the president, having donated $1 million to his massively over-funded inaugural committee, kept him from joining with his team to set themselves against the president’s attack on their league. There are apparently things that transcend financial ties.
The same is true in the case of Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, who joined in on his team’s recent protest during the playing of the national anthem — and donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee, just like the Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones.
The president is quite good at turning people off, in a sense, having seen a large number of his top staffers leave D.C. in the short time he has been in office.
He made his first round of abrasive comments about the NFL at a political rally in Alabama last month, asserting that the “sons of bitches” who sit out the anthem should be fired. Since then, he has tweeted attempts to pressure the NFL into killing off their social justice advocacy strain — and, as this new report indicates, and is unsurprising, Trump’s pressure hasn’t only been in the public eye. It’s also been expressed behind the scenes.
As NFL.com’s Rapoport explained, the NFL is remaining firm in their position opposing the president’s remarks. Since his initial comments, the various teams in the league have solidified their plans regarding their respective responses to the playing of the anthem — many of them using the “template” set by the Cowboys, as Rapaport explained.
Watch Rapaport describe the situation below.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 1, 2017
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