A few NFL team owners have finally addressed President Donald Trump’s influence in the league’s discussions around the controversial national anthem protests before games.
Following the league’s latest decision to implement a new policy that, essentially, punishes players who kneel during “The Star-Spangled Banner,” there was a lot of speculation that the league was caving to Trump’s demands. Now, it seems these owners have all but confirmed the public’s theory.
In depositions for the Colin Kaepernick collusion case, Trump’s impact came up more than once. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said that he spoke to the president directly about the issue.
“This is very winning, strong issue for me," Jones said Trump told him during a phone call. “Tell everybody, you can't win this one. This one lifts me."
Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross testified that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft talked to Trump, too. Ross stated in testimony that Trump’s comments on the protest “changed the dialogue” around what was going on within the league. Additionally, Houston Texans owner Bob McNair attested to the financial setback the teams were experiencing as a result of the protests.
Kaepernick, who was the first player to take a knee in protest of police brutality and racial injustice, is suing the league based on the allegation that owners colluded by not signing him to a contract after he finished playing with the San Francisco 49ers in March 2017. He has been unemployed since then despite being a healthy and capable player.
Jones maintained that Trump is not solely responsible for the decision.
“Let’s [not] give him that much credit,” he said.
However, the admission that Trump spoke directly to several of these owners conveniently before the rules changed, and the fact that he celebrated their new policy as his own victory indicates that at least some credit is due.
Trump may be the president of the United States, but his perspective on the protest should have been null and void the moment he referred to a player who kneels as a "son of a b**ch."
Trump's repeated personal attacks against the athletes whose hard work lines these owners' pockets should have been enough to shut him out of the conversation entirely. Yet, it appears that is not what occurred. This revelation says a lot about the league's values and commitment, or lack thereof, to its minority players.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid