Sports Football

Trump sparks solidarity among NFL players

By Torben Rolfsen

Buffalo Bills players kneel during the American National anthem before an NFL game against the Denver Broncos on September 24, 2017 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

Buffalo Bills players kneel during the American National anthem before an NFL game against the Denver Broncos on September 24, 2017 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

“NFL… ratings are way down. Boring games.” – President Donald Trump

The Tweeter-in-Chief may want to stay out of the prognostication business after a wild and wooly Week 3 that saw fantastic finishes in Foxborough, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago and Green Bay.

When the smoke had cleared, only the Chiefs and Falcons remained unbeaten at 3-0, while the Bengals, Browns, Giants, Chargers and 49ers were still seeking that elusive first win.

Meanwhile, the ripple of activism originally started by the currently unemployed Colin Kaepernick grew to a tidal wave that washed across the league from sea to shining sea.

During a now infamous speech Friday night in Huntsville, Alabama – which sounded like a press conference for Wrestlemania – the president said: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired!’ “

Trump also said referees are ruining the game by calling 15-yard (personal foul) penalties for “beautiful” tackles.

This, at the height of the CTE crisis.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s office responded with a mild rebuttal Saturday, before things went off the charts on Sunday.

The massive increase in participation was a protest against Trump’s reaction to the players’ original protest against racism and social inequality in America.

According to ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell, approximately 12% (180) of visible NFL players on the sidelines Sunday did not stand for the national anthem.

Some teams, such as the Seahawks, Titans and Steelers, chose to skip the anthem entirely and remained in their locker rooms.

Steeler left tackle (and army man) Alejandro Villanueva did his own thing and stood alone just outside the stadium tunnel with his hand over his heart for the anthem.

Of course, as fate would have it, the prime time game at the end of the day was in Washington, D.C., with the Redskins linking arms and the Raiders sitting as a team.

Where it goes from here is anyone’s guess.

Preliminary ratings on CBS were up 4% year-on-year, while the pregame show had its highest viewership in seven years.

Other developments over the weekend included the NBA champion Golden State Warriors and NCAA basketball champion University of North Carolina rejecting congratulatory White House invites, while the NHL’s Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins accepted.

Also of note: in a Major League Baseball first, Oakland A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell knelt during the anthem before his game.

The players want a better America, which is supposed to be what a president is doing.

The NFL and its owners (many of whom stood on the sidelines with their team Sunday) are far from innocent in all this, too.

How come the league that generates the most revenue pays its players the least, and with much less security and guarantees?

Doesn’t add up. Just like Trump’s numbers.