MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — President Donald Trump Wednesday renewed his attack on the NFL and players who protest during the national anthem.
He told reporters the league has to change or the business is “going to go to hell.” Lately, President Trump has spent more public time on the controversy than other issues, but what he’s saying is not completely accurate.
The kneeling controversy started last year, when San Fransisco 49er Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to protest police violence and injustice against African-Americans. It became a national movement after President Trump made it into something else:
“Wouldn’t you love to see on of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now! Out! He’s fired! He’s fired!” the president said at a rally in Alabama.
In a series of at least 26 sports-related tweets, the president hammered the NFL, including this one:
In fact, the NFL already has a policy. It’s not in the NFL rule book, contrary to claims from a viral post on Facebook — it’s in the Game Operations Manual.
Since 2009 the NFL directs:
- The national anthem to be played before every game.
- All players must be on the sideline.
- And They should stand at attention, face the flag, helmets in left hand.
Nonetheless, the League says it won’t discipline players who kneel.
The president is also claiming credit for getting fans to tune out:
What’s more likely, experts say, is that 2017 viewership is down because of three straight weeks of hurricanes, controversy over brain injuries, and many more television choices for viewers.
In Minnesota, it’s not true that Minnesota Vikings fans are tuning out. On Sunday, the number of football fans in the Twin Cities watching the game actually grew — 505,000 viewers during the national anthem to 731,000 fans watching at the end.
The NFL says it will no longer respond to the president’s latest attacks on players who protest.