- It has been one month since President Donald Trump began his pointed Twitter criticisms of the NFL.
- NFL-related tweets account for 12% of Trump’s timeline over the past 30 days.
- He has attacked the NFL for a number of perceived failings, including a lack of respect for the American flag and the league’s reluctance to discipline its protestors.
One month after beginning his Twitter campaign against the NFL, President Donald Trump has continued to criticise the league and its players who choose to protest the national anthem.
Trump first spoke out against the NFL at a September political rally, where he encouraged team owners to dismiss players who kneel during the anthem. One day later, he kicked off his Twitter crusade with the following series:
One day later, NFL fans saw more players kneel for the anthem than ever before, sparking a conversation that has continued since then. A number of football luminaries have weighed in on the protests, while commissioner Roger Goodell responded to player concerns by inviting representatives to the league’s annual fall meetings in New York.
All the while, Trump continued to rail against the NFL, its leadership, and its players. On October 23, one month to the day after his first critical tweet, he threw this barb at the league:
Trump has mentioned the NFL in 18 different tweets since last month, but that figure doesn’t tell the whole story — in addition to calling out the league by name, he also wrote about the value of standing for the flag and provided images of athletes doing so. All told, 12% of Trump’s 311 tweets over the past 30 days were NFL-related, making the topic second only to Puerto Rico on his timeline.
While Trump’s complaints about the NFL have remained largely unchanged, he’s made them in a number of different ways.
On the perceived disrespect of kneeling for the anthem
Trump’s chief complaint about the NFL protests seems to stem from the fact that they break from the longstanding tradition of standing at attention for the American flag and national anthem. Many fans, especially military veterans and families, see kneeling for the anthem as unpatriotic.
Trump often spoke of protecting American values while on the campaign trail in 2016, so it’s not surprising that he would lock onto a controversy which many see as an issue of respect for the flag.
On the NFL’s lack of action
While many of Trump’s earlier tweets on the subject were aimed at the protests themselves, he began to take aim at the NFL and Goodell more and more as time went on. League rules state that players “should” stand for the anthem, but no one has been punished yet.
In addition to his criticisms, Trump has provided numerous examples of other athletes and individuals who have chosen to stand for the anthem or taken other actions he sees as patriotic.
He mentioned names like Usain Bolt and Jerry Jones; he also retweeted a tweet contrasting the anthem protestors with Pat Tillman, a former player who was killed while serving in Afghanistan.
There’s no telling what Trump will tweet next, but if the past month has been any indication, his campaign against the NFL is here to stay.
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