One would think that with all the problems in the world and this nation the person elected to be its leader would be spending the bulk of his time dealing with those. But no, rather than grapple with rising inflation, police misconduct, crumbling infrastructure all over the country, even the corruption and ineffectiveness within his various cabinet posts, Donald Trump is spending a lot of presidential time and energy on two things: playing golf and criticizing NFL players.
The preseason began last week, and has been the case for the past two seasons, a handful of players on various teams took time to make a symbolic protest during the playing of the national anthem. Members of the Miami Dophins, Philadelphia Eagles and Jacksonville Jaguars all made some sort of protest, whether it was staying in the locker room, raising a fist in the air, or kneeling in protest. They ignored the previous threat of the NFL to fine any player for protesting.
As a man, I gotta stand for something,” Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith said. He was one of those who opted for staying in the locker room. “I love my team. I’m dedicated to my teammates and that’s what we’re talking about. I did what I did. It was love. I hope people see and respect it. I respect different views. I love the military. I wore my Salute to Service cleats today. It’s love.”
As numerous players from Colin Kaepernick to Malcolm Jenkins and Eric Reid have attempted in vain to explain to the likes of Trump and others, the protests never did and still don’t have anything to do with the flag or the military. They are a statement made against police brutality and misconduct, as well as the overall unfair treatment many people of color endure in this nation.
But none of that matters to the head buffoon, who was on Twitter once more with his usual nonsense. “The NFL players are at it again – taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the National Anthem,” Trump tweeted. “Numerous players, from different teams, wanted to show their “outrage” at something that most of them are unable to define. They make a fortune doing what they love..Be happy, be cool! A football game, that fans are paying sooo much money to watch and enjoy, is no place to protest. Most of that money goes to the players anyway. Find another way to protest. Stand proudly for your National Anthem or be Suspended Without Pay.”
There is SO much rampant misinformation and outright lies in those statements it’s hard to know where to begin. First, the players HAVE on multiple occasions specifically said what they are upset and outraged about. The NFLPA even sent Trump a letter via the New York Times that spelled it out even more clearly.
NFL players get between 47 and 48.5 percent of league defined revenue. That amount is fixed until 2020. The OWNERS get the majority of the money in the NFL, just as they do in all major sports. The television money alone can pay the contracts of pretty much every NFL player, and that’s not counting all the side deals and sweetheart provisions most NFL owners have built into their contracts with cities.
The NFL has no guaranteed contracts and no minor leagues to subsidize. Owners are far richer than players. In the Trump mindset, because you make a good living you should turn a blind eye to injustice. Fortunately many NFL players aren’t intimidated or cowed by this garbage, and they’ve forced the NFL owners back to the bargaining table in an attempt to resolve what should have been worked out a long time ago.
It’s so funny that the NBA solved this problem by simply sitting down with its players and coming up with pretty much THE EXACT SAME RULE that the NFL now wants to forcibly shove down its players’ throats. NBA players all are mandated to stand at attention during the playing of the anthem or remain in the locker rooms. No one has said a peep about that because NBA players themselves negotiated that, and because NBA players, coaches and management, from Lebron James and Steph Curry to Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich, even Commissioner Adam Silver, are united in their disdain for Donald Trump and freely express it often.
My hope is that this latest Presidential crap further unites the NFLPA and motivates them to take a league wide stand against Trump idiocy. Have collective protests at all games throughout the preseason at minimum, and even into the season. That would be both a signal to Trump that they can’t be bullied and to the owners that it’s way past time they recognized the validity and the earnestness of their stance against injustice and inequality.