As America awoke Sunday morning, everyone had their eye on the NFL. How would its players, its owners, and the personalities from the multi-billion dollar sports media complex address President Donald Trump’s assault on professional athletes?
They didn’t have to wait long to get their answer. Minutes into the broadcasts of the three morning “pre-game” shows on the major networks that cover the NFL, the topic was addressed head-on. CBS approached the topic comprehensively, first by discussing the political angle with Face the Nation host John Dickerson.
They then interviewed Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, who expressed solidarity with players and called for action from the entire community. Finally, they interviewed former Oakland Raiders executive Amy Trask, who addressed this from the perspective of the owners and the challenges they face now that the President has thrown them under the bus. You can view the CBS segment below.
FOX took a different tack. They relied on their diverse pre-game show hosts to provide a range of perspectives on the many issues surrounding this story. Three are White, two are Black, three are former players, and one is a former head coach.
While some were stronger in their condemnation of the President than others, and two expressed disagreement with protesters’ tactics, all expressed support for players in a clear show of defiance against Trump.
By far the most thorough dismantling of President Trump’s comments came over on ESPN, where the tone felt more like an intervention for an absent alcoholic. Each host took turns expressing disappointment and disgust with the President’s rhetoric, and all backed players’ right to protest.
Down on the field, the reaction was just as defiant. Pittsburgh Steelers head coach addressed the media before kickoff, and let his displeasure with the divisiveness of the President’s comments known. He then announced that they would not participate in the national anthem at all.
The Steelers were the outlier, however. Every NFL team came out and publicly defied President Trump. Not all kneeled in protest, but many locked arms in a sign of player solidarity, and all had the support of their ownership.
Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Kahn even stepped out of the owners box and onto the field to join his players in a locked-arm demonstration of defiance.
The protests didn’t end with the national anthem. Some players continued their displays of defiance well into their game, like New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandon Coleman.
It’s clear now that President Trump’s attempt to silence protesters and create division among teams and between fans, players, and owners has completely and utterly backfired.
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