NFL execs admit pressure from Trump a factor on anthem policy

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A day removed from the NFL changing its national anthem policy, it’s hard to escape the feeling that they were simply bullied by the President into doing something, whether it actually made anybody happy or not.

At least they admitted it.

Via Albert Breer of SI.com, there was a clear sense at this week’s owners meetings that the reaction/taunting by Donald Trump at rallies and online (an inevitably on his favorite TV show) was a factor. The league’s new policy requires all players and personnel on the field to stand for the anthem, but it allows players to stay in the locker room if they choose.

Asked if Trump came up in their discussion, Packers president Mark Murphy replied with a laugh: “Oh yeah. It was more how [Trump] might react, anticipating that. Also, how the fans will react, how the media will react. That’s what we tried to think through. . . . No matter what we did, [Trump] would probably try to get involved one way or the other—either criticizing us or taking credit for the change.”

That seems obvious, and this morning’s appearance on FOX News will doubtless include a victory lap.

One owner said Trump’s name came up three times during the discussion, but not at length.

“[Trump] certainly initiated some of the thinking, and was a part of the entire picture,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “But all of that was given consideration.”

Others cited market pressures, with Colts vice chair Carlie Irsay mentioning letters the team received from suite holders who said they were more upset with the league than the team.

“At the end of the day, we are an entertainment property,” 49ers owner Jed York said. “You tune into football on Sunday or Monday or Thursday to get away from everything else. And I think people have had enough of the political fights. I think people do want to get back to football. But our players also have the ability, and the right to champion their causes and bring attention to those causes.”

York was the one owner to abstain from the vote, which the league announced as unanimous.

64 responses to “NFL execs admit pressure from Trump a factor on anthem policy

  1. Stop trying to blame Donald Trump. Many stadiums were half empty all year. The ratings tanked. Those are the reasons.

  2. I was one of the fans that contacted my team (and my team never had a player kneel) to let them know how disappointed I was in the NFL’s failure to have their employees stop protesting during the national anthem.

    Our country is blessed to have freedom of speech. Within reason (there are some legal exceptions) people can say or do whatever they want without recourse from the government. I’m good with that.

    But your employer has rights to. And when you are in your employer’s uniform and or at your place of work, you need to conduct yourself by your employer’s standards. If you don’t, your employer has the right to react accordingly.

    If you don’t like that – go look for a different employer.

  3. Rev. King and the freedom marchers had to endure far worse than what our feckless leader can dish out. I expect this will change nothing.

  4. They can spin it anyway they want, but you can rest assure the most deciding factor was the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

    The loss of revenue is what matters to the owners more than anything else.

  5. The first amendment does not protect an employee from free speech while representing his employer. If the team owner and/or the NFL itself doesn’t want them to do it, they can tell them not to do it, and it’s perfectly within the employer’s right to penalize the employee that does. The NFL is no different than any other employer. Imagine if you did something at your workplace, outside the scope of your job. that brought your boss bad publicity and damaged their reputation? They wouldn’t just turn a blind eye to it.

    The players have every right to make political statements off the field and when they are not in uniform if they choose to. But if they are told to keep it off the field, they need to keep it off the field.

  6. What Trump did was illegal. The president can’t demand private business have certain policies or fire employees because they are doing something he doesn’t like. But who care right

  7. Sure, it wasn’t the 75k fans with resounding boo’s with each kneel, it was Trump!

  8. I know from legal convention that an abstention makes it impossible for a result to be unanimous. That said, I never get tired of winning: I like the Pats and Trump.

  9. patriots123456 Not only the owners are affected by the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ so are the players bottom line its a business for everyone. If your fan base is turned off by protests then the employer has the right to put work place rules in effect that will make their customer happy. Thus keeping all the revenues coming in.

  10. rainsarge says:

    What Trump did was illegal. The president can’t demand private business have certain policies or fire employees because they are doing something he doesn’t like.
    ================================================

    What he did was say something the minority of you don’t like. That’s not illegal. He didn’t make a law.

  11. Mr. Trump masterfully forced NFL owners to bend to his will to make them pay for denying him a franchise. Although it is true that workers must conform to their employment contracts while on the job this was truly a nothing burger. Protesting against black men being killed during traffic stops has absolutely nothing to do with disrespecting the American flag or army even if Mr. Trump tells you so.

  12. gtodriver says:

    May 24, 2018 at 7:00 am

    I was one of the fans that contacted my team (and my team never had a player kneel) to let them know how disappointed I was in the NFL’s failure to have their employees stop protesting during the national anthem.

    Our country is blessed to have freedom of speech. Within reason (there are some legal exceptions) people can say or do whatever they want without recourse from the government. I’m good with that.

    But your employer has rights to. And when you are in your employer’s uniform and or at your place of work, you need to conduct yourself by your employer’s standards. If you don’t, your employer has the right to react accordingly.

    If you don’t like that – go look for a different employer

    This is about as awesome of a post as I have seen on this subject. The people who gave this a thumbs down obviously don’t get it…but gtodriver is dead on!

  13. bd233 says:
    May 24, 2018 at 6:42 am
    Stop trying to blame Donald Trump. Many stadiums were half empty all year. The ratings tanked. Those are the reasons.
    ———————————————————————-
    You are a straight tool! Stadiums were half empty because TEAMS sucked and at times it wasn’t good football. You have billionaire Owners who are getting paid whether a player stands or not. When you don’t know how to deal with something you break under the first pressure. Lol someone said make America great again, well if that’s the case then give this America back to the Indians before it was stolen from them.

  14. rainsarge says:
    May 24, 2018 at 8:25 am
    What Trump did was illegal. The president can’t demand private business have certain policies or fire employees because they are doing something he doesn’t like. But who care right
    —————————-
    Not illegal.
    Obama demanded private citizens buy a product. Whether the citizen wanted it or not.
    Doesn’t that bother you?

  15. Protesting against black men being killed during traffic stops has absolutely nothing to do with disrespecting the American flag or army even if Mr. Trump tells you so.
    ———————
    If it had NOTHING to do with the anthem, why did players use the anthem to protest for something that had NOTHING to do with it?
    Then PRAISED a murderous dictator in Castro.

  16. The NFL (Goodell) was spineless in NOT dealing with this when it started… he made the problem each individual team’s to deal with. Since each owner dealt with it differently, continuing to PO the fans the NFL realized “their brand” was still tarnished and taking a substantial financial hit. Goodell should’ve done the right thing 2 yrs. ago… but failed and STILL got a raise & contract extension. smh

  17. So the driving force behind the effort to show support for the military was lead by two draft dodgers from the wealthiest 1% of the country (Jerry Jones and Donald Trump). And many of the folks playing in the NFL are made up of the same demographic that the armed forces targets in their recruiting.

    Does anyone else see the irony here?

  18. People are saying employees must do what their company says to do…problem here is that until yesterday the employer didn’t have a rule in place. This society is great at stifling people for the wrong things.

  19. So the big news is that a bunch of spineless billionaires let Trump bully them into appeasing the minority of football fans…what a country! What the players were doing was not protesting THE anthem, but protesting DURING the anthem…big difference.

  20. “It was more how [Trump] might react, anticipating that. Also, how the fans will react, how the media will react.”

    Essentially the NFL is telling people that they will bend to the voice of whoever cries and whines the loudest, that’s a great example to set going forward…bunch of cowards.

    Bottom line was – kneeling was bad for business. If the friggin media would stop writing/talking non-stop about the players who knelt this would have gone away. Stop showing the anthem on TV and watch how quickly this goes away.

  21. gtodriver says:
    May 24, 2018 at 7:00 am
    I was one of the fans that contacted my team (and my team never had a player kneel) to let them know how disappointed I was in the NFL’s failure to have their employees stop protesting during the national anthem.

    Our country is blessed to have freedom of speech. Within reason (there are some legal exceptions) people can say or do whatever they want without recourse from the government. I’m good with that.

    But your employer has rights to. And when you are in your employer’s uniform and or at your place of work, you need to conduct yourself by your employer’s standards. If you don’t, your employer has the right to react accordingly.

    If you don’t like that – go look for a different employer.
    ———–

    That’s all fine and well when it is explicitly stated and part of a collective bargaining agreement.

    When you arbitrarily and unilaterally impose such restrictions without the agreement of the bargaining unit which you conduct business with, then it is a problem.

    But then again, you cats who love to compare your Joe Schmo 9-5 experiences with this type of entity always seem to miss the mark.

  22. Liberalsruineverything says:
    May 24, 2018 at 7:51 am
    Getting called out for anti American behavior is being bullied I guess.
    ———-

    Bigotry and racism are anti-American, yet many cling to those beliefs and practices — including most posters on this site.

    Funny how that works…

  23. Isn’t it interesting how certain weasel owners (looking at you Jeffery Lurie and Christopher Johnson) now try to make public statements supporting the players and their protests? Yet the vote passed unanimously? THEN DON’T VOTE FOR THE ANTHEM RULE, YOU MORONS! Look, I get there are two sides to every argument, but it really shows you as sniveling hypocrites if you’re not man enough to defend your vote.

  24. Seems like a cop-out to blame it on pressure from Trump. Translation ” We did something that we wanted to do, but to those who will not like it, it’s Trumps fault that we did it.”

  25. beerbratscheese says:
    May 24, 2018 at 8:07 am

    The first amendment does not protect an employee from free speech while representing his employer. If the team owner and/or the NFL itself doesn’t want them to do it, they can tell them not to do it, and it’s perfectly within the employer’s right to penalize the employee that does. The NFL is no different than any other employer. Imagine if you did something at your workplace, outside the scope of your job. that brought your boss bad publicity and damaged their reputation? They wouldn’t just turn a blind eye to it.

    The players have every right to make political statements off the field and when they are not in uniform if they choose to. But if they are told to keep it off the field, they need to keep it off the field.

    gtodriver says:
    May 24, 2018 at 7:00 am

    I was one of the fans that contacted my team (and my team never had a player kneel) to let them know how disappointed I was in the NFL’s failure to have their employees stop protesting during the national anthem.

    Our country is blessed to have freedom of speech. Within reason (there are some legal exceptions) people can say or do whatever they want without recourse from the government. I’m good with that.

    But your employer has rights to. And when you are in your employer’s uniform and or at your place of work, you need to conduct yourself by your employer’s standards. If you don’t, your employer has the right to react accordingly.

    If you don’t like that – go look for a different employer.

    These two posts says it all! Perfect! If I did this BS at work I would be fired! All those that protest then do something about it on your own time. I want to watch football not your antics!

  26. Stop talking about its about the military yada yada yada…that was just ploy to change the narrative. These folks behind the media scene know this has zero to do with the military. Number one its not a flag its a banner. Do the research please. But we are so blindly caught up in our “belief systems” that we do no research on the topic. Second, for the NFL its not about patriotism is solely about money. Third, people weren’t showing up to games long before this clown show started. Lastly, Trump is still butt hurt that the NFL never let him in their billionaire boys club. Facts Jack.

  27. What I take from the SI story and this corresponding post is there’s a belief that “Trump bullied the owners,” with the purportedly convincing observation that there was a “sense” that the hypothesis was true. The only evidence given was one owner essentially laughing off the notion, and another owner saying Trump’s influence was not discussed at length.

    So what do we really have here? A hot, steaming pile of manure that the SJWs will swallow whole.

  28. Trump is a hypocrite for questioning the players patriotism!! After all, he obtained four deferments, so he wouldn’t have to serve in the military!! So where was his patriotism then??

  29. screamingyellowzonkers says:
    May 24, 2018 at 9:22 am

    rainsarge says:
    May 24, 2018 at 8:25 am
    What Trump did was illegal. The president can’t demand private business have certain policies or fire employees because they are doing something he doesn’t like. But who care right
    —————————-
    Not illegal.
    Obama demanded private citizens buy a product. Whether the citizen wanted it or not.
    Doesn’t that bother you?

    You mean auto insurance, homeowners insurance, motorcycle insurance, PMI?

  30. docsmith54 says:
    May 24, 2018 at 8:34 am
    I know from legal convention that an abstention makes it impossible for a result to be unanimous. That said, I never get tired of winning: I like the Pats and Trump.

    —————————————–

    How’d that work out for the Pats this year?

  31. rcoh says:

    These two posts says it all! Perfect! If I did this BS at work I would be fired! All those that protest then do something about it on your own time. I want to watch football not your antics!
    ——-

    The last line said it all. You don’t want to hear it because it’s uncomfortable, which is why the protests were done when and where they were done. It ain’t about you. Thanks for letting the world know that you are ambivalent to causes which effect OTHER HUMAN BEINGS.

  32. daramsman says:
    May 24, 2018 at 11:03 am
    Stop talking about its about the military yada yada yada…that was just ploy to change the narrative. These folks behind the media scene know this has zero to do with the military. Number one its not a flag its a banner. Do the research please. But we are so blindly caught up in our “belief systems” that we do no research on the topic. Second, for the NFL its not about patriotism is solely about money. Third, people weren’t showing up to games long before this clown show started. Lastly, Trump is still butt hurt that the NFL never let him in their billionaire boys club. Facts Jack.
    ————

    ALL facts.

  33. “York was the one owner to abstain from the vote, which the league announced as unanimous.” ……..31 of 32 teams voted ….to a unanimous conclusion/result. Agenda driven statements that only divide for the sake of division. Peacefully protest on your own time. Trump made “America Great Again” let’s keep it that way.

  34. I love how all the right wing gun toting conservatives are all for this even though it is a direct hit on our constitution… “Yea Trump take our freedoms away! ‘Murica!(spits chewing tabacco on the ground and kisses cousin)”

  35. Last year, that joke of a Sunday became league-wide generic anti-Trump protests, the players and Mike Tomlin caused a lot of problems for themselves and the league. And look what happened to all of the woke teams. They all lost because they were more interested in hating Trump than winning the game. The SJWs lost. Time for them to accept it and move on.

  36. I find it fascinating that people are surprised, like this is some sort of stunning revelation.

    Of course Trump is a factor. He is the President.
    He would have been a factor if he strongly felt the exact opposite.

    That is what giant money making factories in the business world like the NFL do. It would be a determent if they ignored politics

  37. The NBA, aka the most progressive “Woke” league with the most socially conscious, player friendly commissioner in the history of professional sports (Adam Silver), created a rule that all players must stand for the National Anthem. He didn’t give a F about others opinions. He made the rule and the players fell in line. There were zero controversies in there NBA this year regarding this issue. The recent NFL ruling shows the incredible stupidity of the NFL owners.

  38. I am a lifelong fan. My family has spent well over $100,000 on NFL tickets, game concessions and game related travel over many decades. It has been fun. I don’t regret spending the money going to regular season games, playoff games and a Super Bowl, but if the NFL had NOT done this, I planned to cut all of my ties to the NFL. Not one single penny more. I am not the only person who feels this way. The NFL is now on “Double Secret Probation” and any backtracking by the NFL on the “players” / entertainers who play for me kneeling during MY time, I will be done. Me and my money…poof. I am not alone!

  39. Mr. Wright 212 says:
    May 24, 2018 at 12:15 pm
    rcoh says:

    These two posts says it all! Perfect! If I did this BS at work I would be fired! All those that protest then do something about it on your own time. I want to watch football not your antics!
    ——-

    The last line said it all. You don’t want to hear it because it’s uncomfortable, which is why the protests were done when and where they were done. It ain’t about you. Thanks for letting the world know that you are ambivalent to causes which effect OTHER HUMAN BEINGS.

    _____

    Uncomfortable? Try irritating. NFL players have the means and avenues to make a real change- IF that’s what they sought. This is just a me-too lazy parade. You never get people behind you by pissing them off.

    Tell you what, Why don’t you go buy some socks with little pigs on them and run around your workplace showing them off. It should make you feel so good about yourself. And EVERYONE, including your boss should just accept that fact the your fighting the good cause.

    Maybe NFL half-time should just a big protest parade. Wouldn’t that be great.

  40. we are expected to believe that a bunch of billionaires were pressure into anything? I wish you guys kept your personal political beliefs off a sports site.

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