Donald Trump says it’s “about time” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has taken the President’s side in “demanding” players stand during the national anthem.
“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 Wednesday morning.
Goodell on Tuesday issued a letter to executives of the 32 NFL teams calling on the league to “move past this controversy.” The commissioner added that, “like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand” during the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The NFL’s current policy says as much: that players “should” stand; it is not mandatory.
“Players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking,” the league manual states.
Team owners are slated to discuss the issue and review the rule in meetings next week at the Conrad Hotel in Battery Park.
NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart said the topic will be “front and center on the agenda when owners meet next Tuesday and Wednesday.”
The league countered Trump’s tweet Wednesday, calling his remarks incorrect.
“Commentary this morning about the Commissioner’s position on the Anthem is not accurate,” the NFL said in a statement, per ESPN. “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. Commissioner Goodell spent yesterday with Miami Dolphins players, law enforcement and community leaders witnessing first-hand the outstanding work our players and clubs are doing to strengthen their communities. Players from around the league will be in New York next week to meet with owners to continue our work together. “
After re-igniting the anthem controversy last month by calling on owners to fire players protesting racial injustice during the song, Trump continued to take shots at the NFL on Tuesday, questioning the league’s tax breaks while “disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country.”
He then slammed ESPN’s Jemele Hill, blaming “The Six” anchor for having “tanked” the network’s ratings.
“With Jemele Hill at the mike (sic), it is no wonder ESPN ratings have ‘tanked,’ in fact, tanked so badly it is the talk of the industry!” Trump wrote.
Players kneel during the national anthem
Hill was suspended on Monday after encouraging those who disagree with NFL owners directing players to stand to target team advertisers.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has threatened to bench players who take a knee.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has followed suit.
“I think it is incumbent upon the players today, because of how the public is looking at it, to stand and salute the flag,” Ross said.
On Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence walked out of an Indianapolis Colts game after players took a knee during the anthem.