Donald Trump on Friday tore into NFL players who refuse to stand for the national anthem, once again inserting himself into the controversy.
The NFL preseason began on Thursday night, and with it, the new movement among some players to not stand with their hands over their hearts during the national anthem. Miami Dolphins wide receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson knelt, reports Yahoo News. Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and cornerback DeVante Bausby raised their fists (a reference to an incident in the 1968 Olympics when Tommie Smith raised his fist, considered a Black Power salute, during the national anthem).
Thursday night’s pre-season games began the third year of NFL national anthem protests being a thing. It all started back in 2016, during the preseason, when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was spotted taking a knee during the national anthem. The protests expanded from there, and now it’s a thing among many players in the National Football League.
Donald Trump is not having any of it.
The 45th president has repeatedly insisted that NFL crack down on players who don’t stand for the anthem, at one point even saying that “any son of a b***h who” who doesn’t stand for the anthem should be fired.
With the protests having begun anew, Trump once again got in on the controversy.
In fact, according to The Wall Street Journal, Trump’s emotional investment in the national anthem controversy is what made the NFL change its rules. For the first two seasons of the controversy, the league declined to act, leaving it up to the individual teams to set its own rules. However, a few months ago, the league instituted a new policy that allows players to remain in the locker room during the anthem if they so choose, but requires them to be standing for the anthem if they’re on the field, as the Inquisitr reported at the time.
However, the NFLPA (the players’ union) objected, and as of this writing, the future of the policy remains unclear.
For Trump, the national anthem issue has been political gold, according to Wall Street Journal writer Andrew Beaton. Trump reportedly told Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones that the controversy was a “winning issue” for him (Trump).
Polling data seems to bear this out. About half of all Americans, give or take, are against the protests in one form or another, according to a Yahoo Sports poll.