If Donald Trump thought that he could cow the NFL into submission by demanding that any players who kneel during the national anthem be fired, he was sadly mistaken. Sunday saw dozens of players openly defy the Donald by kneeling and linking arms during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Once again, Trump has succeeded in uniting people–against him. The strongest evidence of this came when two high-profile NFL personalities expressed support for the protests after supporting Trump in the past.
The first game to kick off this week featured the Jacksonville Jaguars facing off against the Baltimore Ravens in London. As the teams stood on the sidelines while the anthem played, several players on both teams kneeled, while others linked arms.
In one of the more inspirational moments of this week–and possibly in recent NFL history–Jaguars owner Shad Khan linked arms with several of his players. Even more telling, the NFL captured the moment on its official YouTube channel. Watch here.
The Jaguars also shared it on their official Twitter feed.
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) September 24, 2017
This was a gutsy move on several counts. While a number of owners issued statements condemning Trump’s remarks and supporting their players’ right to protest, as of Sunday afternoon none of them have gone as far–in public, that is–as Khan. Additionally, Jacksonville is a congested-red area dominated by the military–an important consideration, since those who oppose the protests claim that they insult our men and women in uniform.
But here’s a twist–according to Federal Election Commission records, Khan donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration committee. However, he loudly criticized Trump’s ban on Muslim immigration. That issue hit Khan personally, as he is the only Muslim owner in the league. He believes the ban struck at two of the cornerstones of this country–“immigration and really a great separation of church and state.”
In a statement issued during halftime of the Jaguars’ 44-7 romp over the Ravens, Khan said he didn’t even give a second thought about backing up his players.
Statement from our Owner Shad Khan: pic.twitter.com/bbAJKpqZ3w
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) September 24, 2017
Khan was being rather kind. Not only did Trump’s remarks make it harder to bring the country together, but they expressed harsher sentiments than we heard from Trump regarding the Nazis and racists who descended on Charlottesville. That, more than anything else, is why today’s mass protest was justified.
A few hours after the final gun sounded in London, an even higher-profile Trump supporter appeared to express solidarity with the protests–New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Two years ago, Brady turned heads when he hung a “Make America Great Again” hat in his locker. While Brady hasn’t spoken much on the record about politics–reportedly at the insistence of his wife, Gisele Bündchen–the fact he had that hat spoke volumes.
But Brady dropped a very loud hint where he stood on Trump’s remarks just before the early games kicked off on Sunday. New York Times culture writer Sopan Deb noticed Brady commented with a seemingly supportive emoji when his opposite number on the Green Bay Packers, Aaron Rodgers, expressed support for the protests on Instagram.
Tom Brady seems to endorse kneeling – commenting on Aaron Rodgers's Instagram post: pic.twitter.com/XdTrkp2llG
— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) September 24, 2017
Later, when the Patriots took the field for their game against the Houston Texans, Mark Daniels of The Providence Journal saw Brady linking arms with several of his teammates.
Tom Brady is locking arms with his teammates pic.twitter.com/IbUjnlKGF2
— Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) September 24, 2017
Hmmm, does that make Brady a “son of a bitch” now?
It was already an open secret that a number of Trump voters are having a severe case of buyers’ remorse. Now it looks like two of Trump’s highest-profile supporters have broken with him–at least on this issue–in a very loud and very public manner.
(featured image courtesy Jacksonville Jaguars’ Twitter)