Donald Trump Denies Dr. Fauci’s No-Football Take, But Adds That, If Players Kneel, He ‘Won’t Be Watching’

U.S. President Donald Trump gestures during an East Room event to announce the “PREVENTS Task Force” at the White House.
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President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Friday to announce that Dr. Anthony Fauci has no say over the NFL, while also threatening not to watch the games if the league allows players to kneel during the national anthem. The tweet came after Fauci said the United States might not have football this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Thursday, Fauci warned the country there might not be a football season this year because of concerns regarding COVID-19. Although the NFL appears to be moving forward with its typical season plans, the doctor said that — unless the players live in a bubble — it would be unlikely that the league could successfully play its 2020/2021 season.

Trump then tweeted about the situation, clarifying that the doctor — who is part of the country’s coronavirus task force — is not in charge of the NFL’s decision.

“Tony Fauci has nothing to do with NFL Football. They are planning a very safe and controlled opening. However, if they don’t stand for our National Anthem and our Great American Flag, I won’t be watching!!!”

The post got a lot of attention, with almost 83,000 users hitting the “like” button and nearly 23,000 retweeting the president’s words. Almost 28,000 accounts also left a comment.

Several people wondered why Trump and others have been so offended by NFL players taking a knee to bring attention to police brutality. Many others stated that the protests did not dishonor the flag of the United States. Some wondered why Trump hadn’t found the time to tweet about Juneteenth, a holiday that commemorates the date the final slaves realized they had been set free in the U.S.

Not everybody disagreed with the president’s sentiments, though. Several commentators thanked him for standing up for the flag and for pointing out that the NFL created a safe plan for its upcoming season. After months without sports, it seems many enthusiasts are ready to see their favorite teams playing again.

Trump’s comments about kneeling come after the NFL recently changed its position on players doing so as a form of peaceful protest against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Earlier this week, the president made unexpected comments about former NFL player Colin Kaepernick getting a second chance in the league. Kaepernick was the first player to kneel in protest and Trump spoke out strongly against him. Ultimately, the football player lost his job. However, Trump recently reversed his position, saying the former quarterback deserved a second chance if he was good enough to get hired by a team.