In response to the NFL’s decision to ban all national anthem protests during the upcoming 2018 season, New York Jets CEO Christopher Johnson vowed to pay the fines for any player who wants to exercise his constitutional right to peaceful protest. But New York state representative Peter King condemns the organization’s position and likened the on-field demonstrations to “Nazi salutes” and spewing racism.
In a fashion not unlike the country’s commander-in-chief, the Trump-supporter took to Twitter to express his distaste for the team’s position on Saturday. Rep. King openly criticized Johnson saying that the “disgraceful” movement started by free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick is based on lies and that the time has come “to say goodbye to (the) Jets.”
“Disgraceful that @nyjets owner will pay fines for players who kneel for National Anthem,” King tweeted. “Encouraging a movement premised on lies vs. police. Would he support all player protests? Would he pay fines of players giving Nazi salutes or spew racism? It’s time to say goodbye to Jets!”
Newsday reported that King not only doesn’t believe that taking a knee is an effective way to protest police brutality, he asserts that black men are not being targeted by police at all. According to the Republican from Seaford, New York, “the statistics don’t show it.”
King’s commentary was met with strong backlash from many who see his statements as political suicide. Some have even called for his resignation. ABC News Chief Political Analyst Matthew Dowd questioned King’s beliefs about the existence of police brutality and racial profiling, along with his definition of patriotism.
King also said that taking a knee is disrespectful and that if a player won’t stand during the anthem, he shouldn’t have a job in the league. But U.S. Navy veteran Carl Nyberg disagrees and offered his full support of the NFL player protests in spite of his personal dislike for the NFL.
Johnson said on Wednesday that he believes in the players’ rights to protest in order to shine a light on racial injustice. While he prefers that the players stand for the anthem, he will not penalize anyone who chooses not to do so. Freedom of expression is their right and he will not allow the NFL to undermine when and how Jets players choose to express themselves. He has no intention of fining his players and will absorb any penalties imposed by the league.
“There will be no club fines or suspensions or any sort of repercussions. If the team gets fined, that’s just something I’ll have to bear,” Johnson said.