Donald Trump said Friday that he is willing to meet with NFL players and other athletes who have been taking a knee, in a stunning reversal from his open hostility to those athletes in the past, CNN is reporting.
Ever since then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first refused to stand for the national anthem back in 2016, as an attempt to call attention to social injustice, Trump has been nothing short of adversarial to those players. For example, he’s on the record as saying that “any son of a b***h” who doesn’t stand for the national anthem should be fired.
In fact, so incensed has Trump been about the subject that he even disinvited the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles from the customary post-championship White House visit over national anthem protests – even though no Eagles players ever took a knee during the anthem.
He’s also been critical of the NFL’s new policy, announced earlier this year, that it intended to put aside the national anthem controversy while at the same time not compelling players to stand for the anthem if they don’t want to. The policy requires that players on the field stand for the anthem or be fined, but they are allowed to stay in the locker room if they so choose. Trump isn’t on board.
“You have a lot of people in the NFL in particular, but in sports leagues, they’re not proud enough to stand for our National Anthem. I don’t like that.”
On Friday, however, Trump indicated that he’s at least willing to hear what the players have to say. Specifically, he wants names.
“What I’m going to do is, I’m going to say to them instead of talk… I am going to ask all of those people to recommend to me — because that’s what they’re protesting — people that they think were unfairly treated by the justice system.”
He went on to say that if the protesting athletes have any friends of theirs who have been mistreated, they should let him know, apparently with an eye towards issuing a pardon, as CNN writers Veronica Stracqualursi and Kaitlan Collins suggest.
Also on Friday, as reported by the Inquisitr, Trump disinvited both the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors, both of whom are presently battling it out for the NBA championship. Players from both teams – Steph Curry of the Warriors and LeBron James of the Cavs – have been openly critical of Trump, and Trump said that if they didn’t want to be there, then he didn’t want them.