Over the weekend, rather than issue a statement about the on-going destruction caused by Hurricane Maria to Puerto Rico or work toward a diplomatic solution to threats of nuclear war from North Korea, President Trump took the time to criticize former San Francisco 49ers quarterback and private citizen Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the National Anthem as a silent protest against police brutality against people of color in America, indirectly calling him a "son of a bitch" at a rally. Trump also denigrated the NFL in general for working toward minimizing head injuries among players, encouraging fans to boycott games, and also uninvited Golden State Warriors' star player Steph Curry from the White House.
Though the response to Trump's comments were inevitably swift and numerous, they were perhaps not what the commander-in-chief of the armed forces was expecting. From Lebron James to WWII vets, people called out the president's remarks:
U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain't going! So therefore ain't no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up! — LeBron James (@KingJames) September 23, 2017
With everything that's going on in our country, why are YOU focused on who's kneeling and visiting the White House??? #StayInYoLane — Chris Paul (@CP3) September 23, 2017
And I doubt he's man enough to call any of those players a son of a bitch to their face... — Chris Paul (@CP3) September 23, 2017
I support the NBA World Champion Golden State Warriors, their owners, players and fans. — Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) September 23, 2017
Still wondering how this guy is running our country.... 🤔🤔🤔 — Draymond Green (@Money23Green) September 23, 2017
Given that there were several major NFL games yesterday, anticipation of who would protest and how was high. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement calling Trump's statements divisive:
"The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture. There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we've experienced over the last month. Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities."
The New York Giants owners called Trump's comments "inappropriate." Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said the country needed "unifying leadership right now, not more divisiveness." He added, "I know our players who kneeled for the anthem and these are smart young men of character who want to make our world a better place for everyone." 49ers owner Jed York said the comments were "callous and offensive" and "contradictory to what this great country stands for." Even the New England Patriots' owner Robert Kraft, a friend of Trump's, said he was "deeply disappointed" by the tone of Trump's comments.
During Sunday's games, around 150 NFL players took a knee or took other forms of protest in solidarity with Kaepernick. Three teams decided to remain in the locker room until the anthem was finished, and many players - most of whom were black - knelt, sat or raised a fist in the air during the anthem.
Among those who remained standing while the anthem played, many locked arms in solidarity with their teammates. According to Vice, while black men make up six percent of the American population, they account for nearly 70 percent of players in the NFL.