Members of the NFL took to social media over the weekend in the wake of President Donald Trump’s call to “fire and suspend” those to who participate in protesting the national anthem over racial injustice.
Trump also tweeted on Sunday morning to encourage of boycott of the NFL. Since then, players on both the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars took a knee or locked arms in defiance of the president’s comments. Also, the entire Pittsburgh Steelers team stayed in the locker room during the national anthem, with more signs of protest expected in the games to come.
On Saturday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell denounced Trump’s remarks, calling them “divisive” and disrespectful. DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, also tweeted a more direct statement: “We will never back down. We no longer can afford to stick to sports,” it said in part.
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers posted an Instagram on Sunday to comment on the events, using hashtags including “unity” and “brotherhood.”
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady also posted an Instagram with a string of words that seemed to comment on the situation.
Brady also commented on the protests on Boston radio show “Kirk & Callahan.”
“I certainly disagree with what [Trump] said,” Brady said. “I thought it was just divisive.”
He added, “I just want to support my teammates. I am never one to say, ‘Oh, that is wrong. That is right.’ I do believe in what I believe in. I believe in bringing people together and respect and love and trust. Those are the values that my parents instilled in me. That is how I try and live every day.”
Other players’ commentary was more outspokenly political and pointed.
While most commentary on social media from players and owners in the NFL has supported the demonstrators, Denver Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe commented to ESPN that he found the protests “disrespectful to the ones who sacrificed their lives and it’s maybe the wrong platform.”