Trump to NFL: Stand for Anthem or Go Without Pay

August 10, 2018 Updated: October 5, 2018

President Donald Trump addressed NFL players in two Aug. 10 tweets, telling them to “stand proudly for your National Anthem or be Suspended Without Pay!”

While some players have been taking a knee during pre-game national anthem as a form of protest, Trump questioned the players know what exactly they protest.

“Numerous players, from different teams, wanted to show their ‘outrage’ at something that most of them are unable to define,” he said.

He further said the players should find a different form of protest, since “a football game, that fans are paying soooo much money to watch” is an inappropriate venue.

“Most of that money goes to the players anyway,” he said.

The NFL pulled in an estimated $14 billion last season. Excluding operating, administrative, marketing, and other costs, players get about 75 percent of what their team earns, based on the 2017 financials of the Green Bay Packers—the only team that releases the data, because it’s the only one publicly owned.

Under union contracts, NFL players are guaranteed close to half of most NFL revenues, which makes the Packers’ data roughly representative of the situation league-wide.

“They make a fortune doing what they love. Be happy, be cool!” Trump said. “Stand proudly for your National Anthem or be Suspended Without Pay!”

The anthem protests were started by former NFL player Colin Kaepernick in 2016. Others later followed suit.

Trump has, from time to time, criticized the players for protesting in a manner that’s disrespectful to the country.

Kaepernick said his protest was over the plight of minority communities at the hands of “police brutality.” He blamed racism.

On May 23, the league banned players from taking a knee during the anthem but allowed them to go to the locker room while it plays.

Trump didn’t like the locker room option, calling it “in many respects” worse than if they don’t stand.

On July 20, the NFL shelved the policy while negotiating with the players’ union, the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), which filed a grievance against the anthem policy on July 10.

The league still expects players to stand, but players who fail to will, for the time being, not face punishment.

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