Trump Takes On NFL: Players, League Come Together In Rare Sign Of Unity
President Trump's comments over the weekend "managed to unite" NFL players and owners in "indignation and condemnation of his view that pro football players forfeit their freedom of speech protection once they slip on a helmet," according to Christopher Gasper of the BOSTON GLOBE. The NFL yesterday "repudiated the president with an unprecedented display of anthem demonstrations and protests" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/25). In Las Vegas, Ed Graney writes if Trump's intention was to "create some sort of division between owners and players on the point, he failed." He caused the league to be as "supportive of players expressing socio-political views as it ever has been, certainly more than any time since Colin Kaepernick first took a knee" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 9/25). In Minneapolis, Jim Souhan writes Trump has "unified football, basketball and baseball players; coaches, management and athletes; protesters and conservative NFL owners" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 9/25). YAHOO SPORTS' Dan Wetzel wrote Trump yesterday "ran into unexpected and unprecedented solidarity in the NFL." Players, owners and coaches "generally feud over everything," but they "all agreed" yesterday. Jaguars Owner Shahid Khan: "We have a lot of work to do, and we can do it, but the comments by the President make it harder. That’s why it was important for us, and personally for me, to show the world that even if we may differ at times, we can and should be united in the effort to become better as people and a nation.” Wetzel wrote perhaps the "most striking" takeaway was the "thoughtful tone" players took in discussing the issue. There was "little to no name-calling," and there was "acknowledgement of differing opinions." There were "personal stories," and there was "anger and emotion expressed in a calm, thoughtful manner" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/24).
DOING THE IMPOSSIBLE: In DC, Thom Loverro writes Trump has "served to unite two unlikely rivals -- NFL owners and players." What the public sees are "rich and famous athletes joined by richer owners protesting the American flag." But for those protesting, it is "far more complicated than that, and Sunday, they got a chance to deliver that message -- even if many don’t want to hear it" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 9/25). The BOSTON GLOBE's Gasper writes Trump "did the impossible," as he "made the behemoth, multibillion-dollar NFL the good guys" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/25). In DC, Jerry Brewer writes the NFL "looked united, arms locked, black and white." On a day when football "always takes siege of our interest, the NFL’s actions referenced fundamental human necessities that too much of America seems to have misplaced" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/25). In Colorado Springs, Paul Klee writes, "On the surface, the NFL on Sunday looked like a divided entity. I saw the opposite. I saw a locker room united with black guys, white guys, all kinds of guys. I saw a postgame prayer united with black guys, white guys, all kinds of guys." (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 9/25). On Long Island, Neil Best writes Trump is trying to make the NFL "yet another screwdriver being used to tear us apart." What the league did this weekend "will not reverse that, but perhaps it will restore some sanity, or at least perspective" (NEWSDAY, 9/25). In Orlando, George Diaz writes it "seems that those SOBs not only took the field on Sunday but won going away" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 9/25).
ONE SHINING MOMENT: USA TODAY's Nancy Armour in a front-page piece writes the NFL yesterday had "one of its finest moments before the games even began ... coming together from every corner -- players, coaches, owners and league office -- in forceful rebuke" of Trump. Armour: "Whether black, white or brown, on bended knee or with locked arms, the NFL’s rare show of unity was both a dignified condemnation of the wrongs we still must right and a reminder that, for all of our differences, America remains our common ground." What made yesterday "so stunning was how out of character it was, a seismic shift for a league that has been loath to allow any kind of individuality or personal expression." The NFL showed that Trump "badly overplayed his hand" (USA TODAY, 9/25).