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Volume 24 No. 117
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Trump Takes On NFL: League Takes Shots At President On Conference Call

The NFL league office came out swinging at President Trump this morning following his comments over the weekend. Taking at a jab at the "Access Hollywood" tape that came out last year, NFL Exec VP/Communications Joe Lockhart said on a conference call, "Looking at yesterday, everyone should know, including the president, that this is what real locker room talk is.” Lockhart also blasted Trump for saying the NFL had gone soft for focusing on player safety. He said, "The president said something Friday night and in some tweets about wanting less emphasis on safety in the game. We fundamentally could not disagree more. These remarks represent someone who is out of touch and does a really great disservice by making them. It is an outdated and wrongheaded position to say that we shouldn’t be focused on safety." Lockhart said the next step for the NFL and player protests is a series of community initiatives that will be launched next month targeted at inequality. He stressed the league has been working on the events since last year and they were not in response to Trump. Asked if there had been any contact between the NFL and White House, Lockhart replied, “The president has chosen his form of dialogue, which is Twitter and statements that I am not sure a sensible review of the facts would support. If the president wants to engage in something positive, productive and constructive, he knows our number,” he added. Lockhart also said the league has heard no concerns expressed from business sponsors (Daniel Kaplan, Staff Writer).

LATEST TRUMP TWEETS: Trump this morning continued his fight on Twitter against the NFL, writing, "The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this! ... Many people booed the players who kneeled yesterday (which was a small percentage of total). These are fans who demand respect for our Flag!" (TWITTER.com, 9/25). The comments come after several White House officials addressed the topic on the Sunday morning news shows. White House Dir of Legislative Affairs Marc Short appeared on “Fox News Sunday” and said in the NFL, players who “take a knee over a flag that many of our generations preceding us have died to protect the freedoms there, they somehow get honored as martyrs by the media” (NEWSDAY, 9/25). Short also appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and said, “The president is standing with the vast majority of Americans who believe that our flag should be respected. ... The president’s saying that, yes, players have a First Amendment right. But NFL owners also have a right. And that right is that these players represent their teams. And if the owners want to get rid of them, they should be allowed to get rid of them” ("Meet The Press," NBC, 9/24). Meanwhile, the WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Beaton & Futterman note Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin yesterday “defended the president’s position on the protests” on ABC's "This Week." Mnuchin said, “The NFL has all different types of rules. You can’t have stickers on your helmet. You have to have your jerseys tucked in. I think what the president is saying is that the owners should have a rule that players should have to stand and respect for the national anthem. They can do free speech on their own time” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/25).