Donald Trump recently added fuel to the fire when he was asked about the NFL’s decision to introduce a new policy that essentially forces players to stand for the national anthem before games. Trump praised league owners for voting to approve the policy, and reiterated his previous claim that those individuals who refuse to stand for the national anthem shouldn’t be in this country.
"You have to stand proudly for the National Anthem or you shouldn't be playing," he said, per CNN. "You shouldn't be there. Maybe you shouldn't be in the country." It’s hilarious that this claim is coming from the same person who doesn’t seem to know the words to said national anthem.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin spoke for a large swath of the nation when he fired back, saying, “He’s an idiot, plain and simple.” Baldwin did try to expand on his quick reaction. "I mean, listen, I respect the man because he’s a human being, first and foremost. But he’s just being more divisive, which is not surprising. It is what it is," Baldwin said, per the Seattle Times. "But for him to say that anybody who doesn’t follow his viewpoints or his constituent’s viewpoints should be kicked out of the country is not very empathetic. It’s not very American-like, actually to me. It’s not very patriotic. It’s not what this country was founded upon so it’s kind of ironic to me that the President of the United States is contradicting what our country is really built on."
If the NFL owners' goal with implementing this national anthem policy was to have the protests create less of a distraction for the league, it looks like they have failed miserably. This issue will surely bleed into the regular season, and establish a greater divide between the league and the players who feel like this new rule is trying to tell them to shut up about expressing their concerns about social injustice.