This morning Baltimore Ravens star Benjamin Watson was on Good Morning America to respond to and explain the NFL protests yesterday that happened en masse around the league after Trump’s comments, specifically on his team:
“I think what we saw yesterday was really an emotional response to the words of President Trump. Those words really cut deep on a number of levels for a lot of us, and not just guys in the locker room but guys outside.”
That right there is the problem.
It used to be that the issue of these National Anthem protests was simple. It was wrong and worthy of condemnation to disrespect the flag and the national anthem, especially for what many of us feel like is a phony protest in the first place.
But thanks to Trump it’s now more complicated. Now players are kneeling because they don’t like being called ‘sons of bitches’ by the President of the United States, especially when he just suggested there were ‘very nice people’ at the Charlottesville protest a few weeks before.
Even though many players didn’t take part in the protests prior to Trump’s comments, they now feel they have to because Trump suggested they shouldn’t have the right to protest, that they be fired if they do.
Now it’s about solidarity in response to Trump’s divisive words.
Before, as football fans, it was easy for some to switch off the NFL because they didn’t like that a few players around the league were protesting. But now it’s different, at least for me. Now I don’t want to let Trump ruin football for me, so I’m going to watch the NFL games I want to watch regardless of the protests.
And of course Trump isn’t backing down or apologizing for his remarks. He’s just digging in:
Many people booed the players who kneeled yesterday (which was a small percentage of total). These are fans who demand respect for our Flag!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 25, 2017
The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 25, 2017
Which means these Trump protests aren’t going away anytime soon.