After calling out former San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick during a stump speech for Luther Strange in Alabama on Friday, President Donald Trump has started an avalanche of activism that has re-energized the “take a knee” campaign for professional athletes started by Kaepernick over a year ago.
Almost the entire National Football League (NFL) is doing some form of active protest today to bring attention to the matter. Buffalo Bills coach and (former?) Trump supporter Rex Ryan was taken by surprise at the venom issuing from the commander-in-chief:
"I'm pissed off," said Rex Ryan. "I supported Donald Trump. [These comments] are appalling to me… I never signed up for that."
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) September 24, 2017
The Bills’ owners issued a formal statement:
Statement from Buffalo Bills Owners Terry and Kim Pegula. pic.twitter.com/i3D5xzBBSn
— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) September 24, 2017
As if the initial speech Friday and tweets on Saturday weren’t enough, Trump doubled down again in an early morning Twitter rant on Sunday, reinforcing his addled position:
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!
Apparently, Trump doesn’t quite understand that to Americans, sports are the be-all-end-all. You just don’t mess with people’s favorite teams. The teams realize this and many have banded together in an impressive show of solidarity.
Before the early afternoon kick-offs for almost every NFL game starting at 1:00 p.m. eastern time, players, coaches, and auxiliary staff took to one knee during the playing of the national anthem. From CNN:
The Baltimore Ravens’ Terrell Suggs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Mike Evans lent their star power to the national anthem protests as NFL players and coaches kneeled, raised fists or locked arms in unity before their Sunday games.
Protests started with the game being played in London this morning:
Ahead of the morning game in London and 1 p.m. ET games, players from several teams, including the Jacksonville Jaguars, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, the Denver Broncos and the Miami Dolphins, took knees during the anthem. With the exception of one player, the Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t even take the field until the anthem was over.
The protest has been joined by players and teams in the National Basketball Association (NBA) also, as Trump attacked the Golden State Warriors and Steph Curry, the Warriors’ star point guard, for daring to have an opinion. Trump uninvited the championship Warrior team for ‘hesitating’ in accepting his gracious invitation. Trump called it an honor to even receive the invitation, but players and coaches feel that the real honor was in declining.
Statement from the Golden State Warriors: pic.twitter.com/6kk6ofdu9X
— Warriors PR (@WarriorsPR) September 23, 2017
And last night, rookie catcher for the Oakland Athletics, Bruce Maxwell took to one knee, bringing the third major professional sports genre into the mix. Maxwell was the first Major League Baseball (MLB) player to take a knee, but we doubt he will be the last (notice the gentle hand of his team mate resting on his shoulder in the photo below):
— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) September 24, 2017
As Trump continues to spread his hate, it is being answered by what really makes America great — people from all walks of life, nationality, color, creed, and religion are standing (or kneeling) together with a bond of solidarity that crosses all boundaries. It’s almost hockey season by the way and Trump is already trying to woo them:
Please to inform that the Champion Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL will be joining me at the White House for Ceremony. Great team!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
I wonder if they’ll show up or politely decline.
Featured image from Mediaite video