President Trump continues to hammer away at the NFL and players who are kneeling during the national anthem. In response to a Tuesday report that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will address the ongoing protests directly with owners, Trump took to Twitter early Wednesday morning.
“It is about time that Roger Goodell of the NFL is finally demanding that all players STAND for our great National Anthem-RESPECT OUR COUNTRY,” Trump tweeted.
However, that’s not actually what Goodell said. In his memo to the NFL’s owners, Goodell wrote:
“Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem. It is an important moment in our game. We want to honor our flag and our country, and our fans expect that of us. We also care deeply about our players and respect their opinions and concerns about critical social issues. The controversy over the Anthem is a barrier to having honest conversations and making real progress on the underlying issues. We need to move past this controversy, and we want to do that together with our players.”
“We believe that everyone should stand” is a long way from “demanding” that players stand. While it’s entirely possible that the NFL will seek to institute a rule requiring players to stand, that’s a long way from happening, and it certainly won’t happen with any kind of sweeping decree, whether from the commissioner or the President of the United States.
Shortly after Trump’s tweet, the NFL offered a direct rebuke of the president, though not by name:
“Commentary this morning about the Commissioner’s position on the Anthem is not accurate,” the NFL said in its statement. “As we said yesterday, there will be a discussion of these issues at the owners meeting next week. The NFL is doing the hard work of trying to move from protest to progress, working to bring people together.” That last line appears a direct shot at Trump’s continued attempts, via Twitter, to divide the country into with-us-or-against-us camps.
The league’s fall meetings next week will focus on the protests; there’s plenty of interest in getting back to the business of football, but the question of how to respect the players’ rights, wishes, and needs still remains open. It’s a certainty that this story will continue to shadow the NFL, and it’s a near-certainty that Trump will offer commentary the entire way.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.
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