Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) berated New York Jets chairman and acting owner Christopher Johnson for offering to pay fines for players who kneel during the national anthem, regardless of the NFL’s new policy, which bans the act. In his tweet, King compared NFL players taking a knee to giving the Nazi salute.
He wrote, “Disgraceful that @nyjets owner will pay fines for players who kneel for National Anthem. Encouraging a movement premised on lies vs. police. Would he support all player protests? Would he pay fines of players giving Nazi salutes or spew racism? It’s time to say goodbye to Jets!”
On May 21, the NFL released a statement detailing its new national anthem policy. It stated players were no longer required to report to the field for the anthem—that they could stay in the locker room if they chose to—but if they were on the field, they had to stand, or else the club would be fined and Commissioner Roger Goodell would “impose appropriate discipline.”
On Wednesday, Johnson said that he would pay fines for players who chose to protest the anthem. A number of current and former NFL players have denounced the ban, saying that it violates the players’ First Amendment rights, and that team owners didn’t discuss it with players before approval.
The ban arrives after President Trump and other conservatives harshly criticized the league for allowing players to kneel during the anthem, which is a protest of police brutality and racial inequality.