Donald Trump started badmouthing football players taking a knee or protesting during the national anthem a year ago. At first, no one thought it would make a difference. After all, football is one of two top sports in the country. Baseball-Mom-and-apple-pie being the other one. Yet, it looks as if Trump and company have begun to slice away at football, too.
Vice President Mike Pence pulled a real PR trick at the Colts game. As he knew they would, about 12 San Francisco 49ers protested the treatment of people of color by taking a knee on Sunday. Pence left the game and ran right into the arms of the press, whose office had notified them of his intent. The VP said he didn’t want to dignify the protest, but was he not protesting the protest by leaving?
Trump urged owners to fire any player who protested. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones jumped onto the presidential hate wagon and said any player who he felt disrespected the flag would be benched.
Two defensive linemen, Damontre’ Moore and David Irving, stood during the home game with Green Bay Sunday. After the song was over, these two raised fists. Jones said:
‘I don’t know about that. But if there is anything that is disrespectful to the flag then we will not play. You understand? If we are disrespecting the flag then we won’t play. Period. We’re going to respect the flag, and I’m going to create the perception of it. And we have.’
Pence tweeted about his protest of the protest in a tweet:
‘I left today’s Colts game because [Trump] and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.’
When reporters asked Jones after the game what he thought about Pence leaving, the owner said:
‘We cannot in the NFL in any way give the implication that we tolerate disrespecting the flag. I know the vice president did leave, because in his opinion the teams were. We know that there is a serious debate in this country about those issues, but there is no question in my mind that the National Football League and the Dallas Cowboys are going to stand up for the flag.’
Jones continued with his 22-minute interview with reporters:
Just so we’re clear. I’m saying our vice president, if in his opinion, there’s disrespect of the flag then he should express himself however he wants to say. He’s got rights, too. He felt that not standing for the flag is disrespectful. I do, too. The league in my mind should absolutely take the rules we’ve got on the books and make sure that we do not give the perception that we’re disrespecting the flag.’
Lineman Moore said his protest was just “something that I do:”
‘It’s just something that I do. I’ve got my morals, I’ve got my values on the things that I think about. I don’t want to bring unwarranted attention, but at the same time there are certain things people are doing it for.’
Featured Image via Getty Images/Johannes Simon.