President Trump’s call for both fan boycotts and NFL owners to fire players following Colin Kaepernick’s lead and kneeling during the national anthem to protest unarmed, black citizens being killed with seemingly no repercussions sparked a response from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
A weekend of various forms of protest has seen Steph Curry double down on his refusal to accept a White House invitation, LeBron James and other athletes ether Trump on multiple social media platforms, and upwards of a dozen NFL owners and executives denounce Trump’s statements in some form.
But ultimately all eyes were going to be tuned into the players Trump targeted. In turn, many NFL players knelt in forms of silent protest Sunday and voiced their opinions publicly, while others have opted for interlocked arms. In the case of the Pittsburgh Steelers, team ownership offered a bland statement on the matter that failed to mention Trump at all.
Steelers' head coach Mike Tomlin also opted to keep the team in the locker room during the singing of the anthem.
Def Jam co-founder and philanthropist Russell Simmons didn’t mince words when offering his opinion on what players should do during a weekend when #TakeTheKnee was a trending topic.
Locking arms and staying in the locker room hiding is for bitches. I'm sorry I'm so upset WTF. So we not sure if black lives matter.— Russell Simmons (@UncleRUSH) September 24, 2017
I regret DEEPLY my choose of world But a coach coming out and saying we don't wanna be politicized is not supporting your brother or BLM— Russell Simmons (@UncleRUSH) September 24, 2017
“Locking arms and staying in the locker room hiding is for bitches. I’m sorry I’m so upset. WTF. So we not sure if black lives matter,” Simmons tweeted Sunday.
He later apologized for the “bitches” part of his comments, but still managed to hit Tomlin with some ether in the process.
“I regret DEEPLY my choose of world [sic] But a coach coming out and saying we don’t wanna be politicized is not supporting your brother or BLM,” Simmons added.
By most accounts, the process of interlocking arms was started by members of the Seattle Seahawks during a regular season game on September 11, 2016. The gesture was viewed as an alternative to Kaepernick’s kneeling in protest, although Seahawks’ Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson offered what could best be perceived as reductive logic behind the gesture.
“In this country we’ve gone through so much,” Wilson said. “The African American community, we’ve gone through a lot. Not every police officer is a bad police officer. Not every African American is a bad person.”
Simmons has previously called Trump a “real friend” with whom he has a relationship spanning over 30 years.
The Global Grind and Phat Farm founder has increasingly distanced himself from Trump since Trump’s 2015 campaign speech referring to Mexican immigrants as “rapists” who brought drugs and crime to America. Simmons vehemently denounced his one-time friend and campaigned against Trump’s election in an open letter provided to the Huffington Post last November.