Former commissioner Paul Tagliabue has added his voice to the growing chorus of the NFL speaking against President Donald Trump’s remarks over the weekend.
Appearing in Charlotte as a guest of Panthers owner Jerry Richardson (one of the few owners/teams to say nothing so far), Tagliabue made it clear he wasn’t speaking in an official capacity, but made it clear he didn’t go along with the tone or the substance.
“I’m a private citizen now, so I’m not speaking for the league; I don’t represent the league,” Tagliabue said, via Bryan Strickland of the team’s official website. “But from my perspective, I think I know a little bit about NFL players, and from my perspective they’re engaged in many, many positive things across America all the time, week in and week out. Some of it is protest, demonstrations – speech – and some of it is supporting the military, some of it is working in their communities with police department, EMS, firefighters and celebrating that as the Cleveland Browns did a couple of weeks ago. I go to games in Baltimore where my grandkids live, so I know more about the players there who are in the community, working with the homeless, working with domestic violence.
“So for me to single out any group of players and call them SOBs, to me that’s insulting and disgraceful. I think the players should get credit for what they do, and when it comes to speech, they’re entitled to speak. We’re entitled to listen, we’re entitled to disagree or agree for that matter. We’re not entitled to shut anybody’s speech down. Sometimes you don’t like what you hear – that’s true in life in lots of contexts – but you can’t shut people down and you can’t be disgraceful when you’re doing it.”
While he can try to distance himself from it, Tagliabue is still very much viewed as a part of the NFL establishment, so it’s no surprise his statement follows so closely with the stance the league has taken.