Three days ago in Huntsville, Alabama, President Donald Trump attended a campaign rally to defend his decision to endorse the Republican establishment’s pick for the Alabama Senate Race.
But instead of using that time to explain his decision, he used that platform to criticize NFL players who kneel for the national anthem before games. During his rant, Trump called out not just the players, but the owners and the commissioner of the league to fire any player that doesn’t stand for the anthem.
While going on with his soliloquy, Trump went on to say, “Wouldn’t you all like if some of these NFL owners just said to the players that disrespects our flag, get that son of a b—- out of here.”
That comment alone sparked a huge uproar within professional sports. Players such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, and many others have voiced immediate responses to Trump’s apparent hypocrisy of Americans’ rights to freedom of speech.
“A POTUS whose name alone creates division and anger, who words inspire dissension and hatred can’t possibly “Make America Great Again,” Bryant said in a Twitter post.
“One of the fundamental rights this country is founded on was freedom of speech, and we have a long tradition of nonviolent, peaceful protest,” Michael Jordan said in response to Trump’s comments in the Bleacher Report article. “Those who exercise the right to peacefully express themselves should not be demonized or ostracized.”
Several NFL owners, along with the Commissioner, wasted no time to defend their players and the integrity of the National Football League.
“The NFL and our players are at best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in his statement posted by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. “Division comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.”
Most of the NFL owners followed suit not just by releasing statements but by actually supporting their players in yesterday’s game by locking arms with them during the national anthem. The protest of the anthem has increased to a level we all knew was coming, we just didn’t know what was going to be players breaking points.
Now they have found it. But my question for the owners and Commissioner Goodell is: where was this same unity and urgency to secure your players right to freedom of speech when Colin Kaepernick started it?
President Trump isn’t the only man who looks very hypocritical at the moment, the NFL owners and the Commissioner are right along with him. It’s good that they finally came to the forefront and defended the players, but why did they wait this long to speak up about protecting their players’ right of freedom of speech? Is it because Trump tried to tell them all what to do? Is it because it was the right thing to do to stay on the players’ good side?
NFL players and other professional athletes expect an apology from President Trump in the upcoming days. But considering Trumps history of egregious comments on very sensitive topics, all they can do is hope that next time he will come out and say the right things.