Earlier this week, Donald Trump took a massive swipe at the NFL and some players’ practice of peacefully protesting police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem. As TMZ reports, Trump called on the NFL to fire players who “disrespect the flag” by refusing to stand. In an unprecedented presidential attack on free speech Friday, Donald called any player who refuses to stand a “son of a b***h,” and touted an America where peaceful protesters are removed from the field.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘get that son of a bitch off the field now. Out. Out. He’s fired!'”
While Trump never mentioned unemployed ex-NFL player Colin Kaepernick by name, many felt that the reference to the star’s refusal to stand for the national anthem last season was implicit.
Friday’s Trump speech has had a massive impact on the NFL this Sunday, dogging games across the country as teams make the decision to stand or kneel for the national anthem. Or, like the Steelers, simply stay in the locker room. While the NFL has issued a public statement in support of its players’ rights to exercise their constitutionally protected rights to free speech, the league has also made another decision that seems to denounce the idea of firing players who use their platform to make a potentially controversial political statement.
New NFL statement pic.twitter.com/XHPgVvPPfH
— Brian McCarthy (@NFLprguy) September 23, 2017
In the NFL statement, Commissioner Goodell slammed the “divisive” comments made by Trump on Friday. In addition, the NFL commissioner touted the “amazing” response from the teams and players of the NFL to recent natural disasters and applauded the unity the league brings to both local communities and the nation at large.
See what his big mouth caused? He always makes matters worse instead of better! And then goes golfing!
— Cheri Veith (@Cheriveith1) September 24, 2017
It's a FREE country Mr Trump. We'll survive your tyranny and bring democracy back to our once great nation. YOU ARE POLARIZING OUR COUNTRY.
— Colleen Gelb (@GelbColleen) September 24, 2017
and every citizen who doesnt support free speech and the 1st amendment should be sent to north korea, where they can worship flags forever
— ANGEL OF SHYNE, ANDY (@DEADBWOYANDY) September 24, 2017
In addition to speaking of the good done and unity provided by the NFL in the commissioner’s public statement, the National Football League is calling for unity in a bigger way on Sunday. Appearing to be acting in direct response to the Trump call for firings of players who refuse to stand for the national anthem, the league will be broadcasting a message of unity during prime time TV Sunday evening, reports CNN.
The message of unity will come by way of a minute-long television ad that originally aired during the 2017 Super Bowl earlier this year. According to the NFL, the message of unity was originally created to “demonstrate the power of football to bring people together.” Early Sunday morning, the NFL finalized the decision to re-air the message of unity during NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” telecast on Sunday night.
More than 100 NFL players kneel during anthem in defiance of President Trumphttps://t.co/i2sQJwvkFQ
— TIME (@TIME) September 24, 2017
According to an NFL spokesman, the league intends to use the unity ad to “demonstrate what we are about.” What the NFL is about, according to the league and unity message, is a far cry from those “who practice the politics of division.”
The message of unity, originally titled “Inside These Lines,” is narrated by Forest Whitaker and was created by Translation, an ad agency. The narration touts the ability of NFL organization to remain united in spite of peoples’ differences.
“Inside these lines, we don’t have to come from the same place to help each other reach the same destination.
“Inside these lines, we may have our differences, but recognize there’s more that unites us.
“Inside these lines, it’s a game of inches, and there’s no such thing as an easy yard when you’re fighting to move forward.
“Inside these lines, we’re not only defined by our victories, but by the way we handle our defeats.
“Inside these lines, we can bring out the best in each other,
“And live united–
“Inside these lines.”
What do you think about the NFL making the decision to promote unity in the wake of Donald Trump’s words earlier this week? Check out the unity ad that will be airing during NBC’s Sunday Night Football telecast later tonight, and let us know in the comments below.
[Featured Image by Carlos Osorio/AP Images]