If you asked me what I thought it would take to get Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith on the same page, before this weekend, I would have guessed something relating to head injuries, rules modifications or salary standards. I would have been wrong.

During a campaign rally in Alabama, POTUS referred to NFL players protesting the national anthem as “sons of bitches” and called for the NFL and its teams to fire them. The next morning he withdrew his invitation for the Golden State Warriors to visit the White House, specifically citing Stephen Curry’s hesitation to accept as the reason. 

The sports world reacted to these statements with athletes, coaches, executives, teams and even the NFL itself condemning Trump’s words. Three NFL teams stayed in the locker room for the anthem completely while players, coaches and staff stood locked in arms on many sidelines. Even known Trump supporters are critical.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said on WEEI that he “disagrees” with 45’s “divisive” comments. ESPN NFL analyst and former head coach Rex Ryan endorsed Trump, donated to his campaign and even introduced him at a rally and he said on NFL Sunday Countdown that “he’s pissed off.”

The Don suggested that these players be fired for practicing the same first amendment right that the White supremacists in Charlottesville claimed to be protecting. So when White organizations support free speech and incite violence it’s an exercise of the first amendment but when a Black player peacefully takes a knee during a song, it’s a fireable offense?

These are the reasons why people like ESPN’s Jemele Hill and CNN contributor Keith Boykin call Trump a white supremacist so openly. When powerful minorities peacefully express their constitutionally determined inalienable rights, it’s considered disrespectful, but when even a very small and relatively powerless group of White people violently express it, the latter is softened, and the two actions get equalized when, in reality, they stand on very different moral grounds.

The act of ignoring minority expressions of free speech is, by definition, white privilege. Demoralizing it is white supremacy.

Trump tweeted this among a slew of other comments over the weekend, “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!”

Colin Kaepernick, you know, the guy who spearheaded the anthem protests last year, specifically told NFL.com that race was the driving force behind why he’s protesting

So, you tell me, is 45 just ignoring the race involved in kneeling during the anthem or demoralizing it?

Teamwork: The Divide Between Donald Trump & NFL Players
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a press briefing on Monday that, “I think the focus has long-since changed.”
POTUS weighed in more during and after the Monday Night Football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Arizona Cardinals referring to the ratings and calling the boos targeted at those kneeling as “loudest I have ever heard. Great anger.” He also called for the league to create a rule prohibiting players from kneeling for the anthem. 
On The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Trevor made a great analogy about Trump’s reaction to the flag and how conditional it is:
“If Donald Trump’s greatest concern is the disrespecting of the American flag, you know what should really piss him off? The confederate flag. That’s basically waving a picture of your ex around. That’s what that is. It’s like waving a picture of your ex and your girlfriend is like “hey, that’s really disrespectful to me” and you’re like, “no, this has nothing to do with you. I’m just honoring my heritage. And also I’m building a monument of Susan in the front lawn.”
At the root of this misunderstanding between 45 and the players peacefully protesting the anthem in the NFL is a fundamental difference in philosophy that, honestly, I don’t know how it can be overcome.

Athletes, especially ones that make it to the top of their sport, have a fundamental understanding of the adage that “you’re only as strong as your weakest link.” Players go down with injury or retire all the time, creating a culture of constantly changing personnel. Backups get unexpected chances and veterans sometimes underperform, but they all have the understanding that the strength of each member of the locker room contributes to the success of the team. On teams, when a player underperforms, yes it’s possible that player could lose his job, but that’s not the point. The point is that the rest of the team has to pickup whatever player replaces him so that the TEAM can still thrive.

POTUS has never been a real team member. He’s always been the guy dictating from above on what needs to happen; especially as he’s gotten older. 45 is a team member the same way Kevin Hart is a team member in NBA All Star games: he’s going to make sure you look at him, he’s not the best at what he’s doing, but it’s entertaining and all that matters is the trophy.

America is the team. We, Americans, are only as strong as our weakest link. Standing up for the weak links should not be something frowned upon by the leader of the free world but, based on the policies and rhetoric thus far (travel ban, transgender ban, mocking disabled people, repealing DACA, the Dakota Access pipeline, attempting to stifle Black free speech, etc.), 45 doesn’t care for the weak links. So when he sees professional athletes with the access and resources to seemingly ignore the weak links and live their happy lives in a blissful ignorance, like him, he doesn’t understand why they would choose to speak for the weak. Whenever 45 has encountered this in the past, he just fires them.


Teamwork: The Divide Between Donald Trump & NFL Players