WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump weighed in on NFL players who kneeled as a show of unity and protest once again on Tuesday, claiming that game ratings are “way down” and noting the boos as the Dallas Cowboys locked arms before the national anthem at their “Monday Night Football” game against the Arizona Cardinals.
“Ratings for NFL football are way down except before game starts, when people tune in to see whether out country will be disrespected,” Trump wrote.
On Monday, the entire Dallas Cowboys team, along with owner Jerry Jones, locked arms and went on one knee before the national anthem was sung. They all stood up during the anthem.
On Sunday, dozens of players got on one knee during the anthem, along with teams who locked arms in a show of unity following the president’s onslaught of criticism. Trump said that a player who did not stand during the anthem was a “son of a bitch,” and called for a boycott of the NFL if they did not take action against those who staged protests during the hymn.
But his reaction was mixed at the Cowboys show of unity. He claimed that the Dallas team was greeted by boos, which it was, but also that it was “the loudest I have ever heard.”
In a tweet an hour later, though, said that it was “big progress” that the Cowboys dropped to their needs before the anthem.
NFL ratings have been in decline, but so far the trend lines this season are either modest drops or inconclusive.
Players have protested over racial injustice. Trump, though, has said that the failure to stand during the national anthem disrespects the flag and the country. On Monday, he retweeted a user who invoked the name and image of Pat Tillman, the NFL player who joined the military after 9/11 and was later killed in Afghanistan.
Tillman’s widow said in a statement to CNN on Monday that her late husband’s service should not be politicized. “The very action of self expression and the freedom to speak from one’s heart — no matter those views — is what Pat and so many other Americans have given their lives for. Even if they didn’t always agree with those views.”