Trump vs the NFL: America’s Theater of the Absurd Continues

by Donald J. Rippert

Unnecessary dumbness. This week President Trump went to Alabama to campaign for Republican Senate candidate Luther Strange. Perhaps in homage to the candidate’s surname, Donald Trump decided to voice his opinions about the NFL players who protest something or other by kneeling during the national anthem. During his speech in “the heart of Dixie” the Donald went on a tirade against the NFL players. Rather than simply expressing his disagreement with the protesters Trump returned to his usual bombast by urging NFL owners to, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he’s fired. He’s fired!” Listening to Trump’s statements, I suspect that he would escalate a child’s game of tiddlywinks into an armed confrontation if he could only figure out a way to do so. But was he wrong?

Return fire. As has become customary in American politics the reaction to President Trump’s intemperate comments was a barrage of intemperate comments. Rodger Goodell, the vastly overcompensated commissioner of the NFL, slammed Trump’s “divisive” comments claiming the commentary showed a “disrespect for the NFL”. Goodell’s musings leave me to wonder why Trump’s statements were any more divisive than overpaid children refusing to stand for the national anthem or why a league owned by billionaires that puts on a weekly spectacle that maims and kills its players deserves any respect in the first place.  Zach Brown, a Redskins linebacker and usually one of the more intelligent NFL players, tweeted, “Trump stay in ur place… football have nothing to do wit u smh”. Really Zach? The president is somehow out of his place criticizing players who don’t stand for the national anthem? Zach, you graduated from the University of North Carolina. That’s the best you can do?

Employees and employers. Putting aside Donald Trump’s childish need to use profanity in making a statement – does he have a point? Should the owners prohibit players from kneeling or sitting during the national anthem? While NFL players clearly have a right to their opinion NFL owners also have a right to enforce rules in the workplace. I would expect to be summarily dismissed from my job if I took advantage of a public speaking opportunity regarding cloud computing to launch into a tirade against the unfairness of America. There’s a time and place for everything, and my employer doesn’t pay me to express my political opinions on the job. As an NFL fan I don’t have any interest in the political opinions of people who garner attention because they are big and/or can run fast. In a similar vein I would pass on the opportunity to pay to watch a football game played by the authors and commenters on this blog.

The boys and girls in blue. As far as I can tell the kneeling NFL players are protesting the behavior of American law enforcement officers toward minorities. It’s hard to know for sure since the kneelers seem to lack the willingness or ability to articulate their presumed grievances. I wonder what would happen if all the law enforcement officers in those NFL stadiums decided to protest the protesters by simply walking out. Would the courageous multi-millionaires who kneel during the national anthem still play the game if the thin blue line that separates them from 80,000 rabid, hard drinking fans disappeared?

Bacon bits. I urge Jim Bacon to formally invite the NFL’s players to submit guest columns on this blog. They can take the opportunity to describe how horribly unfair life has been to them. In the meantime, I think I’ll skip watching this week’s NFL games. Dan Snyder doesn’t need any more of my money anyway. I’ll use the time instead to visit my father’s grave-site at Arlington National Cemetery.

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29 responses to “Trump vs the NFL: America’s Theater of the Absurd Continues

  1. Was the POTUS right on principal but wrong on how he expressed his opinion?

    well.. that’s a pretty deep subject… actually a deep stinking pile of Donkey Dung subject. but I digress..

    I feel that, as a country, we have have really screwed up and God is now punishing us…

    but I digress… again…

    I’m reminded of the immortal words of Gerald Ford:

    “. our long national nightmare is over..”

    not yet.. and not by a long shot…

    but I digress..

    now.. black folks are painfully realizing just how badly they screwed up by not voting in the last election!!

    somewhere in the aging process..I became mightily disenchanted over both Pro and Collegiate sports – and our country has accelerated into a toilet flush from the 100th floor of a skyscraper…

    Sports have become both the Opioid and the hemorrhoid of our country.. and now we have …ahem.. added to that… distress.. what can I say?

    • I kind of agree. I never thought I’d say this but I am losing my interest in spectator sports. Oddly, at 58, I am getting a lot more interested in participatory sports – running, lifting weights, playing golf, etc. Doing things where I don’t have to listen to an adolescent president or adolescent professional athletes and/or useless movie actors.

      • Football has essentially ruined the concept of College also.. there are way too many people who pick the college based on their Sports programs rather than tuition cost or academics. The colleges know this and they wrap themselves in “BIG” Sports programs -not only to be able to sell high dollar tuition but to attract alumni dollars and endowments.

        People won’t abandon Football.. they’ll switch from the NFL to Collegiate then go back when their favorite Collegiate players ‘graduate’ to the Pros. It’s a no-fail recipe.

        What would happen to UVA is they became like MIT or Cal Tech and droped their football ?

        • UVA’s football is so bad I doubt it would matter. However, if you count all national championships in all sports – baseball, lacrosse, girls’ soccer – UVA is one of the top athletic colleges in the country.

  2. I don’t bother listening to him or even the POTUS’s before him, for the most part. Better to spend time and talk to your elected reps in city/state where you have more of a handle on them than any other.

    • Maybe true but his fencing with North Korea could leave all of us in the D.C. are with a big, big problem. At the end of the day the loon can cause a lot of problems – whether we listen to him or not. For God’s sake, he’s 70 … can’t he at least act 20?

  3. There’s an aura of tone deaf here.. when you have white guys saying the NFL is going to lose viewers because of what black players are doing… as if there are no black guys watching and identifying with those black players.

    I think the NFL thinks this issue is a “win” for them.. otherwise.. they’d be more aloof to this.

    • I don’t see any tone deafness. Most NFL players are entitled men who have rarely been accountable for their actions. While there are certainly exceptions many of the players are borderline illiterate. They were mollycoddled through school based on their athletic prowess – not their intellect. They don’t know why they are taking a knee during the national anthem. However, they are attention whores so they just can’t help themselves. Same as Trump. What a sad situation in the United States when you have two groups fighting over essentially nothing while the national media tries to whip the populace into a frenzy over that nothingness.

      • what is it? 70% of the NFL is young black guys.. and who watches them?

        Many blacks see sports the same way they do entertainment – some of their number “got lucky” and “hit the lottery” .. and they epitomize their interest and skill in athletic and entertainment.

        Check out the commercials for big time sports – they’re not targeting old white guys…. and the reaction of the players to Trump is to see him as an older white guy who is racist but doesn’t realize he is – like a lot of other older white guys.

        The NFL and NBA is not for older white guys. It’s for a much younger demographic of “color”.. and what they “respect” is a country with a color-blind legal system …that does engender respect for any symbolic support of the Country and what it stands for.

        If you don’t get this – congrats.. you qualify for older white guy status!!!

  4. Good posting Bacon. Takes courage to go public against this left wing bullying and badgering with seemingly no purpose but to run down and degrade anything and anyone they see as traditional or pro-America.

    We can now sit back and watch the near universally left-wing media, academics, celebrities et al huff and puff and choke on their bile with the hypocrisy of castigating Trump for divisiveness or whatever.
    As if the kneeling wan’t intended to be “in your face” divisive action to disturb and provoke. And for what??

    On this one I say Good For Trump!

  5. Did Jim post anything here? Maybe I missed it. Anyway as far as the national anthem, Pledge of Allegiance and so on, the WaPo has an editorial today pointing to a Supreme Court decision back in the 1940s that protected a Jehovah’s Witness family from harrasment from West Virginia school officials when a child said no.

    What makes America great? The right to say no to such things and be a minority and still be respected.

    Can’t say why Trump is raising such populist stuff at this moment when so much is going on with health care legislation, North Korea, Putin just finishing big military exercises on his western border. The list goes on.

    • I wrote the article. We have a president who is 16 going on 71. Instead of just saying, “I think the highly paid players of the NFL should stand for the national anthem” he goes nuts about firing the SOBs. Then the overpaid pro football players took knees en masse without any explanation why – other than Trump said no to do that. Now the Golden State Warriors don’t want to go to the White House but the Pittsburgh Penguins do want to go. For reasons known only to themselves and (perhaps) God the NASCAR people felt required to get into the act in support of Trump.

      I am not sure your Supreme Court case is pertinent. Public school students have a lot of rights that employees don’t have – especially at the workplace. As an employer, in most states (including Virginia), I can terminate your employment for any reason or no reason at all. I can’t toss you out of the public school system without some level of due process.

  6. The phrase that comes to mind after reading all these comments is “crazy like a fox.” Trump knows exactly what he is doing. I think what bothers me most is it is working. This is no more about the National Anthem than the debate over the Lee Monument is over slavery – it is just dog whistle demagoguery on both sides and both sides are responding in true Pavlovian fashion. He has no more respect for free speech than does Antifa or the KKK. I do not think he is racist (actually), but he is happy to play racial politics.

    Meanwhile no revisions (of any kind) to a collapsing and financially unsustainable health care payment system, no tax bill, no appropriations bills, a $20 trillion debt with nowhere to go but up, and a school yard shoving match with a nuclear maniac right out of an Orwell novel. That is what you are supposed to not be noticing….

    • While I think both sides look stupid, my guess is that Trump will win more than he loses here. Americans have become increasingly skeptical of and annoyed by professional sports and professional athletes. The highest paid professional rugby players in the world make about $2m per year (and there are only 2 who make that much). The Redskins backup quarterback (who might not take a single snap in a game this year) makes $3m per year. The Redskins starting quarterback (who is about the 8th – 10th best quarterback in the NFL) will make $24m this year. Meanwhile, the fan experience at NFL games has deteriorated massively over the last 20 years. Is it a surprise that NFL TV ratings are falling and stadiums are now routinely only half full?

      People are getting fed up with under-educated petulant athletes who demand forgiveness for everything from beating their children, wives and girlfriends to staging bloody dogfights but can’t be bothered to stand for the national anthem.

  7. How about those ‘skins? Big “win” last night on TV.

    They *used* to say the Redskins team was the one thing that unified both sides of DC politicians. Now we can’t even say that, as the team name itself has been declared as politically incorrect.

    The team tried (in vain?) to bring back their unifying spirit with their statement yesterday (which no one yet has apparently transcribed from PDF format to text for easier copy and paste):
    http://was.247sports.com/Bolt/Washington-Redskins-Donald-Trump-response-released-Sunday-Night–107934197

    The statement calls into question: Is the correct response to change the team name as demanded by the change requestors, or not. How do we cope with divisiveness?

  8. Sports is an American tradition.. don’t think it will go away.

    it’s much more than “sports”… it’s “celebrity” and for blacks ,

    it’s all about those that “made it” despite their mal-treatment by the American education and legal system….

  9. Ripper,
    On second thought you are right about the NFL owners having the right to fire anybody, depending upon the state. Although you’d get into a lot of mess, not unlike people refusing to do business with gays who are married.

    • Probably right. However, the more I thought about this the more I began to wonder. The NFL has certain exemptions to Anti-Trust laws. In return, they are supposed to be squeaky clean with regard to the players union , arbitration. A case could be made that there is no competing professional league in America. So, a player who gets terminated for kneeling doesn’t have the chance to play in one of the other leagues.

      • It’s baseball that has exceptions to the federal antitrust laws, not the NFL.

        Generally, an employer can restrict what his/her/its employee does or says while at work. As you said, this is not a public school where students have a right not to say the pledge of allegiance for religious reasons. I think it’s generally a good idea that NFL owners cut the players some slack to protest. A protest in this instance is not an unreasonable thing to occur. And I fully get the overreaction to Trump’s overstatement.

        However, there comes a point where most Americans don’t like the idea of institutions disrespecting the Country and its flag. I cannot define that point exactly. But we are either there or close. There is a time to realize the point has been made. Let’s proceed.

        Much of this boils down to the fact that the candidate of the Elite in the last presidential election didn’t win. And she lost to a terrible candidate because she was regarded as worse by many. But Hillary lost and she and many others are still pissing in public about the loss. Hillary’s loss to Donald was the biggest putdown of the Elite since John Hancock signed his name in big, bold letters. Clinton didn’t lose to McCain, to Romney, to Cruz or any other “reasonable” candidate. She lost to Donald Trump And she lost because blue collar America, who had supported Obama twice, rejected her. And Clinton was too arrogant to campaign for their votes. She had destiny and identity politics on her side. She was the best qualified woman to run for president. She was smarter than Bill and knew what best for all of us. It was time for a coronation. But it didn’t happen.

        The Elites simply cannot accept this – being beaten by their inferiors. So we’ve seen the politicization of everything. This is not to say the lefties and the Elites are alone, but they have tried to make everything political and everything an attack on the world that was thrust upon them last November. They are using legitimate complaints to express rage and are willing to crap on what many ordinary Americans think is important.

        • You’re the lawyer, not me but this article says that all the pro sports enjoy an anti-trust exemption. Maybe it was passed for baseball but then applied to the other big pro sports?

          http://nypost.com/2014/12/04/congress-has-nfls-anti-trust-exemption-in-its-crosshairs/

          Beyond that – you are absolutely right about the elites and Trump. Remember when Trump claimed his campaigned was wiretapped? The left lost its collective mind mocking him as delusional. Now, in retrospect, it appears he may have been right.

          When it comes to Trump … the more I see the reaction of America’s elites and the useful idiots who support them the more I begin to think Trump was actually quite right when he spoke of draining the swamp. Only it’s looking more like an open sewer than a swamp.

          I’ll give Obama some credit through all this. He’s looking pretty (ex) presidential. Instead of following Hillaloons’ lead and shrieking at the Moon he’s up on Wall Street cashing in on his refusal to prosecute the banksters over the Great Recession. Membership (in the elite) has its privileges. The personal loans of protection Obama made to the banking executives during his administration are now being paid back.

          • My mistake. I was thinking about the tax exemption that the NFL gave up but wrote antitrust. Your statement is, indeed, correct.

  10. Well..I agree with part of what TMT says about Clinton’s flaws, but this issue is not about elites.. and it never was – it’s about a long simmering race problem that has been with us for a long time – and blacks as a race are convinced that our criminal justice system is racist and imprisons and kills innocent black people – and that either whites know it and don’t care or they are actually involved in it… and what HAS CHANGED is that we NOW have a POTUS who actively dog-whistles the issue to his base – and apparently it works with white folks who are not convinced things are as bad as black folks do.

    If you doubt any of this – there are a number of polls including the PEW polls that show this divide…

    now – on to the NFL issue… which is very much a part of this issue and it has nothing to do with high paid jerks or disrespect of our servicemen… it has to do with race.

    I don’t know how many white folks reading here are familiar with the phrase ” pulled over by Police for driving while black”. it’s a common phrase used by many blacks .. including NFL players who are black.

    It alludes to the fact that black players in the NFL as well as other black celebrities have been pulled over by police and threatened with fines and jail over what was later to be determined ..trumped up charges and they were subsequently released when the police figured out who they really had rousted and knew there would be a lot more focus on the arrest.. and a bad outcome for them.

    Black NFL players have had direct personal experiences with the police over these kind of police stops.

    They share those experiences with other players, their family and friends, and others in their black communities … and they KNOW that had they not been a known player in the NFL – they’re probably be in jail and/or a criminal record.

    SO, this is what Kaepernick said originally:

    “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.””

    Kaepernick and his fellow black NFL Players KNOW that by the grace of God go they -and that it’s only because they are NFL players that they’re not drawn up in the criminal justice system like other blacks are.

    this is why they take a knee..

    and they do it with the National Anthem -on purpose so that their statement has impact.to a wide audience.. .. where in other less public venues less noticed, even ignored.

    Now folks can claim that these are rich little spoiled brats.. or showing disrespect for those who died for the country – and all sorts of other things – that really have nothing to do with the real reason for why they kneel.

    Obviously- the POTUS knows this but is confident he can, once again, use his involvement as a dog whistle to those whose attitudes towards blacks is not particularly warm.

    Steve Haner gets this.. but clearly judging from other comments here, I’m not sure who else gets it…

    I don’t expect the folks who don’t understand the statue issue to understand this any better but until and unless enough of us do “get it” – this is just another skirmish in this long festering wound that our country has.

    It’s not about the NFL .. it’s not about Hillary.. It’s not about Trump except that Trump knows how to use it to his advantage..

    • See LarryG – that’s the difference. You cite some specific activities that would indicate prejudice by law enforcement officers against African Americans. I don’t know if you’re right or wrong but at least I can understand your point.

      Kapernick makes no such articulate points. He blathers on about the oppression of black people and people of color. Do Asian Americans count as people of color because they sure don’t seem to be all that oppressed (unless, of course, oppression is defined as being vastly over-represented at America’s best colleges). Does American oppression of black people include oppression by other black people as the murder rate in places like Chicago and Detroit is escalated by black-on-black violence?

      Kapernick is a professional athlete who was watching his 15 minutes of fame as a wildcat quarterback come to an end. That wasn’t going to sit well for a guy who craves attention so much he has enough text tattooed on his body to make Gutenburg jealous. He needed a way to extend his 15 minutes of fame and kneeling worked.

      Let’s be honest – the NFL is a sad spectacle. The game is played by a disproportionate percentage of overpaid miscreants who beat up women, routinely fail drug tests they know they will be given, commit the occasional murder (Aaron Hernandez, Rae Caruth) or organize the odd dog fight betting ring. There are only 1,696 active NFL players at any given point in time. They seem to get into an astonishing amount of trouble – especially given the average NFL salary is $1.9m with a first year minimum of $465,000. Yet the players are less disgusting than the owners. A bunch of billionaire entertainment company owners who preside over a league where they know that the entertainment they are providing is killing the entertainers. You’d think one of the asswipes who own the NFL franchises might say, “If we can’t find a solution to the concussion crisis in the league I will shut down my franchise. I will not be party to any business that systematically kills its employees.”

      But no – there the owners are, kneeling arm in arm with the players their greed is killing. And the players, largely dumb as stumps, think Donald Trump is their real oppressor.

      • I have more respect for the players taking a knee or remaining in the clubhouse during the National Anthem than I do for the NFL, its leaders and owners. Goodell is an arrogant, superficial hypocrite. The League has a rule that “requires both teams appear on the field for the playing of the anthem, standing, remaining quiet, and holding their helmets in their left hands. Failure to do so can result in fines, suspensions, and the loss of draft picks.”

        The rules are found on pages A62-63 of the league’s game operations manual:

        “The National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem. During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking. The home team should ensure that the American flag is in good condition. It should be pointed out to players and coaches that we continue to be judged by the public in this area of respect for the flag and our country. Failure to be on the field by the start of the National Anthem may result in discipline, such as fines, suspensions, and/or the forfeiture of draft choice(s) for violations of the above, including first offenses. ”

        Moreover, Goodell has clamped down on other players’ exercise of their expression of beliefs. https://news.grabien.com/story-roger-goodell-ignoring-leagues-own-rule-book-letting-players

        What disgusting hypocrisy. It would be fitting if Goodell stepped in front of a brakeless trash truck.

  11. Dear Jim & Rip,

    It seems to me that a simpler solution to the kneel-ins is for the networks not to show them. Just focus on the band or the stands. Don’t reward bad behavior with attention. That is what parents do to misbehaving children. Unfortunately, however, the networks think, at least for now, that it is in their ratings’ and ideological interests to show the miscreants. They will soon find out, to their deep regret, that they miscalculated. Ah, well…

    Sincerely,

    Andrew

  12. the major networks are for the democrats & anything to undermine our president is newsworthy– anything for attention
    TRUE OR NOT–

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