Is it possible that the President was trolling the NFL and its players on Friday night? If so, it’s entirely possible that it will work.
With many contending that anthem protests are causing NFL interest and ratings to diminish, and with the issue previously sliding toward the back burner, Trump’s rhetoric pulls it back to the front of the stove and cranks up the gas. Could his comments spark more players to use the platform provided by the anthem to protest, with the President himself possibly becoming the new target of the demonstrations?
Regardless of why players may choose to sit or kneel for the anthem on Sunday and Monday, does proliferation of protests play in to the President’s agenda? By potentially stirring up more sitting and kneeling, there will be more reaction to the sitting and kneeling, and in turn more calls from fans to “fire the sons of bitches” or to pay less attention to the NFL and more attention to politics.
Is that ultimately what the President wants? More people paying attention to him, and less people paying attention to anything else?
Then there’s the 30-year-old grudge he possibly holds against the NFL, which wouldn’t let him in the club then and didn’t grant him admission earlier this decade, when the Bills were for sale. Though he counts several owners as friends and supporters, he’s never been invited to join them.
And therein lies the NFL’s current conundrum. How should the league, teams, and players respond to what could be a cry for attention and potential disruption? The best approach for the league and the players could be to quickly craft a unified strategy for responding.