‘No thanks!’: President Trump reacts to NFL players kneeling before Thanksgiving Day game
President Trump let NFL players know on Thanksgiving Day exactly what he thinks of them kneeling during the National Anthem. He tweeted out, “No thanks,” just before the holiday game at Ford Field in downtown Detroit after seeing Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson and Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford both kneel on Thursday.
Stafford said earlier in the season that kneeling felt like the right thing to do.
“Just felt like it was the right thing at the right time,” he said in September. “Obviously it’s been an amazing offseason just for our team, for a lot of people, something where there’s been great opportunity for growth and learning and understanding, and just felt like it was the right thing for me.”
Trump sent out the tweet in response to one by DEE SPORTS GUY which stated “QB’s Deshaun Watson (Houston Texans) & Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions) exercising Social Justice support during the National Anthem minutes ago,” and included photos of both football players kneeling.
Players have knelt during the National Anthem since the first week of the NFL season after a summer of racial tension and protests following the deaths of several Black people in police-involved incidents.
The president has been a vocal critic of kneeling players since August 2016 when social justice protests at games were all the rage after having been launched by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The kneeling is in response to perceived police brutality and racism. Trump has not softened his viewpoint on the practice.
Millions of Americans seem to agree with the president and the controversy has caused a lot of problems for the sports league both financially and reputation-wise. Even before the pandemic, teams were finding it increasingly harder to fill stadiums, and their ratings on television cratered because of their in-your-face political stances.
The media claims that the protests are popular and have gained social acceptance. But many Americans staunchly disagree with that premise.
No thanks! https://t.co/IYQSotnMG9
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 26, 2020
In 2017, Trump told his supporters at a rally in Alabama that he wished NFL owners would penalize players who took a knee during the National Anthem.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when someone disrespects our flag to say, ‘get that son of a b*tch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired,'” Trump said at the time to wild applause.
Trump tweeted in June that he would no longer watch football or soccer after the U.S. Soccer Federation released guidelines stating that players did not have to stand during the National Anthem.
In July, the president recommended to players that they find alternatives to kneeling to express their views.
“[T]here are many ways of showing you are unhappy,” Trump said to them.
In August, President Trump doubled down and said that he would prefer for the NFL not to resume games if players opted to kneel.
Other teams are still pushing the social justice angle when it comes to kneeling before games or participating in other forms of protest. The Texans made a statement before their opening game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The team chose to stay in the locker room during the playing of the National Anthem and “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” also known as the Black national anthem. They then joined Chiefs players in a “moment of unity.”
The demonstrations are a part of the league’s so-called effort to promote social justice issues. They painted “End Racism” in teams’ end zones as well.