President Donald Trump’s push to get the NFL to force every player to stand during the playing of the national anthem isn’t slowing down.
In an interview with Fox News taped on Wednesday and broadcast on Thursday morning, the President continued to hammer on the league for allowing players to take a knee or sit during the playing of the song. The latest round of comments focused on NFL owners, who the President says have told him they want to stop players from taking a knee but aren’t doing so out of fear.
“I have so many friends that are owners. And they’re in a box. I mean, I’ve spoken to a couple of them. They say, ‘We are in a situation where we have to do something,'” Trump said. “I think they’re afraid of their players, you want to know the truth, and I think it’s disgraceful. And they’ve got to be tough and they’ve got to be smart.”
There’s not too much difference between those comments and others the President has made recently outside of explicitly raising the idea of the owners, almost all of whom are white, being in fear of players, almost all of whom are black, taking a knee in protest. While the President has said race has nothing to do with his interest in this subject, the entire issue began with Colin Kaepernick protesting unequal treatment of minorities by police and this round of comments does little to keep race out of the forefront of the discussion.
During the interview, the President also asked why the league is not “enforcing a rule that’s been in existence for a long time” that forces players to stand for the anthem.
No such rule exists. The NFL’s Game Operations Manual says both teams must be on the field for the playing of the anthem, but that players “should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking.” Should and must mean two different things, obviously, and the NFL confirmed last year that there is no requirement placed on players to stand for the song.
The President has made it quite clear that he feels the league should have a different approach and it seems that he’s going to keep talking about it until they bow to that feeling.