A new wave of protests during (not of) the national anthem was generally followed by a tide of players lining up to rip President Donald Trump.
The last of the day, at least chronologically, was Washington cornerback Josh Norman, who was emotional and pointed when asked about Trump’s charge that the “sons of bitches” who knelt for the anthem should be fired.
“What president?” Norman said, via Lorenzo Reyes of USA Today. “Not my president. He was chosen, true. But when a president acts like that, what do you say to that? That’s not someone that stands with dignity, pride, respect, honor. Where’s the honor in that? Where’s the dignity in that? Where is anything that’s prideful in doing what you did?
“Words are powerful. They can either unite you, or they can divide you. So what he said united us.”
Norman and many of his teammates stood with arms locked during the anthem, with owner Daniel Snyder on one side of the Pro Bowl corner. Of course, Snyder donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee and $100,000 to his current campaign, so he had no problem standing. Some Washington players kneeled, including wide receiver Jamison Crowder and tight ends Jordan Reed and Niles Paul.
Players yesterday were up in arms after Trump’s attack over the weekend on former quarterback Colin Kaepernick and other players who have protested racial inequality and unfair treatement by law enforcement. And Trump the individual has the same right to an opinion as Norman, but the power of his office made it a threat that many players took seriously.
“When a man calls you out like that, behind the POTUS, and he’s supposed to be the President of America – he’s supposed to be – calls you out like that, in a group, and there’s more going on in the world, that’s frustrating,” Norman said. “That’s coming from you. I’m all cool. You give people the benefit of the doubt, but he’s coming in that direction, directly at you, nah, man. One brother, you mess with one, you mess with all. Nobody’s divided in this. We was in unity. We wanted to stand for something.
“I’m telling you right now, this man is not welcome in Washington, D.C. He’s not. I hope he won’t be around when I see him. He’s not welcome. I can say that to your face. He’s not welcome.”
Norman wouldn’t say if the team had other plans for the future, but made it clear that no players were showing disrespect to the flag itself or anyone who served.
“It’s not about the flag, man. We love it. We want to be here. This is our country. We were born here. We were bred here. This is what we’re about,” he said. “Nobody is spitting on the flag or disrespecting it. We know you gave your life for it and our gratitude to your service is deeply endeared. Understand that. But if somebody comes on your front porch and takes a piss, as a man, what are you going to do? Sit there and watch him pee? Or are you going to step outside and be like, ‘Hey, what are you doing, sir? You’re on private property. You’ve got to get off, or we’ll make you get off.’ ”
And Sunday, Norman and many other players made their feelings clear. We await the inevitable Twitter response.