Trump chides NFL players for protests at preseason games

‘NFL players are at it again’ says Trump as he demands they be stripped of pay after players from five teams raise fists, take a knee or leave the field during national anthem

  • president tweeted Friday morning after NFL anthem protests returned Thursday as 24 teams played preseason games
  • Players from the Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks, Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens all staged protests
  • Two players knelt, three raised their fists, while eight stayed in locker room or left the field as The Star-Spangled Banner was playing
  • President Trump ridiculed the players, commenting on their salaries and telling them to ‘Find another way to protest’
  • ‘Stand proudly for your National Anthem or be Suspended Without Pay!’ he said.
  • League and players association have yet to announce a policy on protests this season after waiving a new suspension rule

President Donald Trump ripped into kneeling NFL players in a tweet on Friday that recharged his fight with professional athletes demonstrating during the national anthem.

Trump claimed in a tweet that players were outraged about something ‘most of them are unable to define’ in a statement that downplayed their stated cause of police brutality against and equality for African-Americans.

He ridiculed NFL players who protested during preseason games on Thursday, telling them, ‘Be happy, be cool!’

‘Find another way to protest. Stand proudly for your National Anthem or be Suspended Without Pay!’ he said.

A total of 15 players from five teams – the Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks, Jacksonville Jaguars and Baltimore Ravens – demonstrated during the playing of The Star-Spangled Banner.

President Donald Trump ripped into kneeling NFL players in a tweet on Friday that recharged his fight with professional athletes demonstrating during the national anthem

He ridiculed NFL players who protested during preseason games on Thursday, telling them, ‘Be happy, be cool!’

Miami Dolphins wide reviewers Kenny Stills (left) and Albert Wilson (right) knelt during a preseason opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens

Also in Miami: Robert Quinn, defensive end for the Dolphins, also raised his fist during the anthem while shaking his head

In Philadelphia: Eagles’ Malcolm Jenkins also raised his fist during the anthem, while teammate Chris Long placed his arm on his shoulder. De’Vante Bausby (not pictured) also raised his fist

In Seattle: Indianapolis Colts players linked arms during the national anthem before a game against the Seattle Seahawks

In Baltimore: Members of the Los Angeles Rams were not united as the national anthem played before their pre-season game with the Baltimore Ravens

Two players knelt, three raised their fists, eight either walked from the field or stayed in the locker room, one placed his arm on a protesting teammate’s shoulder and another stood with his back.

Trump chided them for their conduct in Friday morning messages that signaled he is also prepared to make the protests a season-long issue.

‘The NFL players are at it again – taking a knee when they should be standing proudly for the National Anthem. 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,’ the first message said.

A follow-up tweet directed the players to, ‘Be happy, be cool! A football game, that fans are paying soooo 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!’

The NFL protests have consistently drawn the ire of President Trump, who last month said players who take a knee more than once should be banned for the season.

‘First time kneeling, out for game. Second time kneeling, out for season/no pay!’ he said in a July 20 message. 

The league and the players’ union have yet to announce a season policy for kneeling after the league backtracked on an order that players must stand at attention during the playing of The Star-Spangled Banner or remain in the locker room.


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Players and teams that refused to honor the new rules were looking at steep fines. 

Trump blasted the ‘$40,000,000 commissioner’ of the NFL Roger Goodell for failing to stop the movement in his July tweet, which came a day after the NFL said it was indefinitely suspending it anthem rules.

‘The NFL National Anthem Debate is alive and well again – can’t believe it! Isn’t it in contract that players must stand at attention, hand on heart?’ Trump said. ‘The $40,000,000 Commissioner must now make a stand. First time kneeling, out for game. Second time kneeling, out for season/no pay!’ 

On Thursday in Philadelphia, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and cornerback De’Vante Bausby raised their fists during the anthem, and defensive end Chris Long placed his arm around Jenkins’ shoulder. Jenkins had stopped his demonstration last December.

Defensive end Michael Bennett walked out of the tunnel during the anthem and walked toward the bench while it played.  

Dolphins wide reviewers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson knelt during the anthem while defensive end Robert Quinn mounted a separate protest by holding his right fist high into the air and shaking his head. 

Meanwhile, Seahawks defensive linesmen Branden Jackson and Quinton Jefferson joined offensive linesman Duane Brown in leaving the field following team introductions and before the start of the anthem. They returned when it was over. 

All three were among a group of Seattle players that sat during the anthem last season.

Brown and Jefferson said they intend to continue all season. Coach Pete Carroll said the team discussed the topic and decided to support individual decisions. 

He said he didn’t believe there had been much progress made from the demonstrations of last season.


In Seattle: Quinton Jefferson and Branden Jackson were two of the Seattle Seahawks players to wait in the tunnel until the national anthem had finished on Thursday before their preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars (they were pictured last season)

Also in Seattle: Seahawks offensive tackle Duane Brown also joined the protest. The NFL recently said it would fine players who knelt during the anthem but allow them to wait it out in the dressing room. That decision is now being reconsidered 

In Jacksonville, four Jaguars remained in the locker room during the national anthem, and team officials said it would be up to the players to explain why they weren’t out. 

Cornerback Jalen Ramsey, linebacker Telvin Smith, and running backs Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon joined teammates on the sideline after the anthem.

‘As a man, I got certain beliefs,’ said Smith, who wore ‘Salute the Service’ cleats. ‘You know what I mean? This is not going to become a distraction, and Jacksonville’s not going to become a distraction for this team. I got beliefs. I did what I did.’

He said, ‘I don’t know if it’s going to be every week, can’t answer if it’s going to be every week.

‘But as a man I’ve got to stand for something. I love my team, I’m dedicated to my teammates, and that’s what we’re talking about,’ Smith said. ‘I did what I did. It was love. I hope people see it and respect it. I respect views.’

In Baltimore, both teams stood. While most of the Ravens lined up shoulder-to-shoulder on the sideline, however, second-year linebacker Tim Williams stood alone in front of the bench with his back toward the field.

Florida: Jalen Ramsey, cornerback for the Jacksonville Jaguars, stayed in the locker room during the anthem along with linebacker Telvin Smith

Jacksonville protests: Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon, also of the Jaguars, stayed in the locker room before emerging after the anthem had finished

All of the players on both teams in New England appeared to stand for the national anthem, with some bowing their heads and others placing their hands on their hearts.

The Patriots observed a moment of silence beforehand for Weymouth, Massachusetts, police officer Michael Chesna, who was killed last month in the line of duty. 

The kneeling protests have been a major issue for the Dolphins in particular, with Stills performing one at most of the team’s games over the last two years.

The star initially had the support of Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, but Ross later backtracked and said he wanted players to stand. 

Dolphins coach Adam Gase told reporters earlier this week that he had not given any advice to players intending to kneel, telling reporters: ‘I’m not instructing anybody for anything.’  

Maryland protest: Baltimore Ravens’ Tim Williams stood out of his team lineup with his back turned to the field during The Star-Spangled Banner. He was seen before the protest

Wilson is going into his first season with the Dolphins but knelt at least once last year while playing for the Kansas City Chiefs, reported the Miami Herald.  

The kneeling protests were inspired by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick nearly two years ago as a demonstration against racial injustice.

Kaepernick praised Stills and Wilson for kneeling, tweeting on Thursday evening: ‘My brother @kstills continued his protest of systemic oppression tonight by taking a knee. Albert Wilson @iThinkIsee12 joined him in protest. Stay strong brothers!’ 

 

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