Drew Brees apologized for saying he’d never support those who kneel during the national anthem because it disrespects the flag.
Roger Goodell admitted the NFL was “wrong” for not listening to players earlier about inequality and police misconduct, and encouraged “all to speak out and peacefully protest.”
But President Trump doesn’t seem to have changed his stance a bit since 2017, when he rallied his supporters by criticizing players who did not stand during the national anthem. At one point, he challenged owners to fire any player who protested in such a manner.
In 2018, the league tried instituting a rule that banned on-field protests during the anthem. That policy was put on hold after objections from the NFL Players Assn. Still, the protests had all but faded away by the end of the 2019 season.
But recent events, including the death of George Floyd and the unrest that followed, may spark a new round of pregame protests in 2020.
Trump seems ready to battle again on that front.
He tweeted Sunday night: “Could it be even remotely possible that in Roger Goodell’s rather interesting statement of peace and reconciliation, he was intimating that it would now be O.K. for the players to KNEEL, or not to stand, for the National Anthem, thereby disrespecting our Country & our Flag?”
Trump responded to Brees’ apology Friday by tweeting: “He should not have taken back his original stance on honoring our magnificent American Flag. OLD GLORY is to be revered, cherished, and flown high. We should be standing up straight and tall, ideally with a salute, or a hand on heart. There are other things you can protest, but not our Great American Flag _ NO KNEELING!”
During a deposition in a grievance filed by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said that Trump told him about the kneeling controversy, “This is a very strong, winning issue for me,” and “Tell everybody you can’t win this one. This one lifts me.”
With everything that has transpired since then, it remains to be seen whether the issue will be a winner for Trump in 2020.