NFL players took to Twitter to respond to President Donald Trump’s attack on the league and its players on Friday.
The president said that players that protest the national anthem should be fired.
“Get that son of a b—- off the field right now, out. He’s fired. He’s fired!” Trump said of those players.
The protests have been growing after former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the anthem last year. Kaepernick is not on an NFL roster — which some believe is due to his protest. Trump previously took credit for Kaepernick’s unemployment in May.
The NFL Players Association, the labour union representing the players, responded to Trump in a statement on Saturday. Here’s an excerpt of the statement:
“The peaceful demonstrations by some of our players have generated a wide array of responses. Those opinions are protected speech and a freedom that has been paid for by the sacrifice of men and women throughout history. This expression of speech has generated thoughtful discussions in our locker rooms and in board rooms. However, the line that marks the balance between the rights of every citizen in our great country gets crossed when someone is told to just ‘shut up and play.'”
He also went after the play of the league, saying that harder hits should be allowed. The NFL has ramped up their crackdown on hard hits after studies showed the connection between hits and long-term health issues for retired players. Trump said this enforcement is “ruining the game.”
Players past and present took to Twitter following the comments to express their feelings. Here’s a rundown of a few we’ve seen:
- Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman: “The behaviour of the President is unacceptable and needs to be addressed. If you do not Condemn this divisive Rhetoric you are Condoning it!!”
- New England Patriots safety Devin McCourty: Ppl said it was disrespectful not going to the White House..I’m sure they are quiet about us being called ‘sons of bitches'”
- Detroit Lions tight end Eric Ebron: “Does anyone tell trump to stick to politics, like they tell us to stick to sports? Smh.”
- Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Chris Conley: “‘Stick to sports boy… Sit down and do what your told. Say or do something we don’t like and your fired’ Well I hate to break it to ya…”
- Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long: “Player- Let’s promote equality, help our communities. Mad Guy- All talk. Player- Actually I do/have done X Mad Guy- U just want attention!” In response to a reply to the original tweet: “Yet you voted (presumably) for someone famous solely for being a millionaire.”
- Former wide receiver Donté Stallworth:“‘When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.’ — Maya Angelou”
- Former defensive tackle Terrance Knighton: “I hope more players kneel.”
And here is the full statement from the NFLPA:
The peaceful demonstrations by some of our players have generated a wide array of responses. Those opinions are protected speech and a freedom that has been paid for by the sacrifice of men and women throughout history. This expression of speech has generated thoughtful discussions in our locker rooms and in board rooms. However, the line that marks the balance between the rights of every citizen in our great country gets crossed when someone is told to just “shut up and play.”
NFL players do incredible things to contribute to their communities. NFL players are a part of a legacy of athletes in all sports who throughout history chose to be informed about the issues that impact them and their communities. They chose – and still choose today – to do something about those issues rather than comfortably living in the bubble of sports. Their decision is no different from the one made by countless others who refused to let “what they do” define or restrict “who they are” as Americans.
No man or woman should ever have to choose a job that forces them to surrender their rights. No worker nor any athlete, professional or not, should be forced to become less than human when it comes to protecting their basic health and safety. We understand that our job as a Union is not to win a popularity contest and it comes with a duty to protect the rights of our members. For that we make no apologies and never will.
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