On Sunday, dozens of NFL players and owners showed solidarity with players who elect to protest during the National Anthem. Some players took a knee while others locked arms with owners, after President Donald Trump insisted that players who don't stand should be fired.
However, Trump announced yesterday that he approved standing with locked arms:
Great solidarity for our National Anthem and for our Country. Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable. Bad ratings!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
On Saturday, after the president's Twitter comments, New York Giants co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch spoke out in a statement, "Comments like we heard last night from the president are inappropriate, offensive and divisive. We are proud of our players, the vast majority of whom use their NFL platform to make a positive difference in our society."
However, the Jets organization did not release a statement, prompting NYC Comptroller (and lifelong Jets fan) Scott Stringer to say, "[T]hrough all the seasons, what has disappointed me the most has been the last 36 hours and ownership’s failure to condemn President Trump’s hateful words."
At the Dolphins-Jets game at MetLife stadium on Sunday, acting Jets CEO Christopher Johnson stood arm in arm with players. Woody Johnson, the team's CEO and a Trump supporter, was appointed to be ambassador to the U.K.; according to NJ.com, "With Johnson in London, his younger brother, Christopher, is now the Jets' acting owner and is in charge of the team's day-to-day operations. Christopher has said Woody is now completely uninvolved in the Jets' operations, including all decision making."
After the game began, Christopher Johnson released a statement:
Today, NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart—a former Bill Clinton spin doctor—addressed Trump's comments. Noting how Trump framed his vulgar and misogynistic Access Hollywood hot mic comments as "locker room banter," Lockhart said, "Everyone should know, including the president, that this is what real locker room talk is."
Bob Costas NAILED this. Patriotism comes in many forms, but it's been conflated w/ bumper sticker flag waving & "military only." 🙌 pic.twitter.com/2R5z00btfU
— Josh Sánchez (@jnsanchez) September 25, 2017
Today, Trump Tweeted, "The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!"
But now even Piers Morgan disagrees with Trump:
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) September 25, 2017
Morgan added, "[Colin] Kaepernick switched from sitting to kneeling after a Green Beret told him that's how soldiers honour dead comrades." Kaepernick, the former 49ers quarterback, had knelt during the anthem during the 2016 season to protest police brutality.
NYC Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis echoed Trump's stance in a statement, "The American flag is far more than a colored cloth; it represents our shared freedoms and honors those that have fought and died to preserve them. Among those freedoms is free speech. Thanks to our men and women in the military, NFL players have the right to express their personal political views anywhere; except for in their workplace — the football field. It would not be tolerated fi your doctor or dry cleaner lecture you on their political beliefs every time you walked through their door or if your child's teacher knelt or stepped out of the classroom during the pledge of allegiance."
The issue has divided the country:
— Brennan Gilmore (@brennanmgilmore) September 24, 2017
Last fall, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg dismissed Kaepernick's protest as "stupid" and "offensive."
And four years ago, Trump advocated for a separation between state and football:
President should not be telling the Washington Redskins to change their name-our country has far bigger problems! FOCUS on them,not nonsense
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 8, 2013