Cowboys game

Donald Trump applauds ‘great anger’ from ‘booing’ fans at Cowboys-Cardinals game

The online discourse between the Executive Office and the National Football League did not cease because Week 3 of the NFL season ended. On the contrary, it may have been ratcheted up a notch on Tuesday morning by President Donald Trump, who let the world know he was thrilled to hear fans booing when members of the Cowboys team dropped to their knees prior to the national anthem on Monday night.

Trump applauded the “great anger” he heard from the fans.

But he also said he was pleased with the decision by Dallas to stand for the national anthem, calling it “big progress.”

Trump later added he believes the NFL needs to “set a rule” saying players cannot kneel during the national anthem.

Worth noting here: players were not required to be on the field for the national anthem until 2009, when the NFL instituted that rule, largely as a way of cranking up the patriotism you see on the field before NFL games. Trump also said he believes ratings are “way down” for NFL games, except when people tune in before the game to see whether the country is “disrespected.”

There is a lot to unpack from just an hour or so of the president’s personal Twitter feed. For starters, “great anger” feels counterintuitive to the point here: anger is bad and if everyone were less angry this might be a little less of a problem. “Big progress” also feels like maybe something that is not happening at the moment, although the unity showed by teams and players has been a positive thing. Again, the anthem stuff is new and the NFL has pointed out recently it does not and will not have a rule about standing.

As for the ratings, it seems counterintuitive to suggest that people are both boycotting the NFL because of the anthem protests and tuning in only for the anthem protests. That makes little sense. Also, ratings are up so far this season from last year.

The president kickstarted a weekend of protests and demonstrations from NFL players when he said anyone not standing for the national anthem before a football game should be fired by their NFL team while at an event in Alabama.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b—- off the field right now. Out,” Trump said. “He’s fired. He’s fired!”

As a result, nearly every single NFL team released a statement or comment of some kind about the situation and nearly every NFL game featured at least one demonstration from a player or entire roster. Jaguars owner Shad Khan linked arms with his players before Sunday morning’s game in London, and Jerry Jones linked arms and kneeled with the Cowboys roster prior to the Monday night game.

Several teams, including the Steelers, Titans and Seahawks, stayed in the locker room for the national anthem. The Steelers did have lineman Alejandro Villanueva, a former Army Ranger, stand outside the tunnel away from the team, and on Monday Villanueva apologized for acting alone and “throwing his teammates under the bus.”

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