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NFL execs admit pressure from Trump a factor on anthem policy

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.