The NFL Kneels Against Trump.
Over the last week, President Donald Trump has begun speaking out against specific NFL players and their actions during the National Anthem at their games.
During the past year, several players of color (starting with Colin Kaepernick) began kneeling or linking arms during the anthem in order to show unity against police brutality and racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
Trump fired back last Monday stating in a tweet that, “The NFL has all sorts of rules and regulations. The only way out for them is to set a rule that you can’t kneel during our National Anthem!” and continued mentioning the gesture over the next five days through his twitter.
This caused quite a controversy within many of the national sports leagues. Many NFL and NBA players tweeted back in response to Trump, disregarding his statement and standing up for the athletes right to exercise free speech.
This past Sunday during all five NFL football games, players linked arms and/or kneeled in protest to the President’s words and to show unity among the organizations.
In previous NFL controversies, organization owners have done little to support their players. Even Kaepernick was left without a team this past season as a direct result of his dissent. But on Sunday, several owners took part in the protest.
Some team owners, including Arthur Bank from the Atlanta Falcons and Stephen Ross from the Miami Dolphins, have tried to address the statements by Trump and have spoken out about racism, the criminal justice system, and poverty.
The first owner to be seen in support with his players was Shahid Khan, the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was quoted saying “I’m not a crusader, but this was a Rosa Parks moment for the Jaguars.” Khan, however, was one of the nine NFL owners that donated $7.75 million to Trump’s inaugural committee and presidential campaigns.
The owner of Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones, also contributed $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee. Jones made a spectacle when he knelt with the entire team before Sunday’s game during the National Anthem.
But it is hard to know wether or not the owners will continue to stand with their teams. Many NFL team owners are business folk by trade and are facing backlash from their business allies for standing against Donald Trump. “Football and politics don’t mix easily,” the Cincinnati Bengals, whose owner is Mike Brown, said in a statement on Monday.
A Republican state legislator from Louisiana, Kenneth Havard, said he wants to take away millions of dollars in subsidies and tax breaks from the New Orleans Saints, due to the fact they allowed players to protest the anthem.
But what they are threatening is people’s rights to free speech. Everybody has the rights to say, think, and do what they want. Once people began getting reprimanded and fired due to things they peacefully say and do, we no longer have freedom. The First Amendment clearly states the right for peaceful protest and freedom of speech, and a threat on one person’s rights is a threat on everyone’s.