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Volume 24 No. 157
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NFLers Respond To Trump's Comments With Pregame Protests

NFL players today responded to President Trump's comments and tweets over the weekend with protests prior to the 1:00pm ET games. Nearly the entire Steelers team "stayed in the locker room" ahead of their game with the Bears in Chicago. The lone exception was OT Alejandro Villanueva, who "served in the United States Army" (, 9/24). Patriots QB Tom Brady stood with his "hand over his chest," while "about 20 Patriots" took a knee (, 9/24). Falcons Owner Arthur Blank and Lions Owner Martha Firestone Ford both linked arms with players "during the National Anthem" (, 9/24). Eagles Owner Jeffrey Lurie also "stood beside" CB Malcolm Jenkins, who "raised his right fist" (, 9/24).

The protests come after Trump's comments Friday at a rally in Alabama. Among the comments on player protests: 

  • "You know what's hurting the game? .... When people like yourselves turn on television, and you see those people taking the knee when they are playing our great national anthem." 
  • "The only thing you could do better is if you see it, even if it's one player, leave the stadium, I guarantee things will stop. Things will stop. Just pick up and leave. Pick up and leave. Not the same game anymore, anyway."
  • "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He's fired. He's fired!'"

Trump also commented on the NFL's awareness of concussions, saying, "Last week -- I watched for a couple of minutes. And two guys -- just really beautiful tackle. Boom: 15 yards! The referee gets on television, his wife is sitting at home, she's so proud of him -- they're ruining the game." He added, "They're ruining the game. Hey look, that's what they want to do. They want to hit, OK? They want to hit. But it is hurting the game" (, 9/23).

Trump this morning tweeted: "If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend! ... NFL attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN. Boring games yes, but many stay away because they love our country. League should back U.S." NFL Exec VP/Communications Joe Lockhart also tweeted, "Tens of millions of Americans, and fans around the world, will come together today to celebrate our great game and our great country."