NFL owners afraid of their players — Trump
Police under fire over post
WASHINGTON, Sept 28, (AP): President Donald Trump says National Football League team owners are “afraid of their players.” And he’s still calling for action against those who kneel during the national anthem to protest racial injustice.
Trump says he began criticizing the players because he has “so many friends that are owners.” He adds: “I think they are afraid of their players, if you want to know the truth, and I think it’s disgraceful.”
The president spoke in an interview that aired Thursday on “Fox and Friends.” He says “most people agree” with him.
Trump has spent days attacking players who kneel during the anthem. He insists the NFL should require players to stand. Responding to Trump, hundreds more players have been sitting, kneeling, locking arms or remaining in locker rooms.
Meanwhile, the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus and civil rights groups on Wednesday called for the resignation or firing of the head of the State Police for sharing a Facebook post calling NFL players who protest during the national anthem “anti-American degenerates.” The caucus, which is comprised of 22 Democratic legislators, said Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue — who has apologized — can no longer be trusted to fulfill her duties in an objective and unbiased manner. Liberal activists, the American Civil Liberties Union and at least one Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Abdul El-Sayed, also called for her ouster.
Republican Gov. Rick Snyder will not ask her to step down, spokeswoman Anna Heaton said.
“The colonel said she made a mistake and publicly apologized,” she said. “She has served with distinction as an outstanding public servant for decades.”
The post Etue shared on Sunday, which was signed “we the people,” calls the protesting players “millionaire ingrates who hate America and disrespect our armed forces and veterans.” It also calls them “rich, entitled, ungrateful.”
The post angered lawmakers, especially in Detroit, where a white state police trooper last month fired a Taser at an unarmed black 15-year-old, Damon Grimes, during a chase before the teen crashed an allterrain vehicle and died.
Sen Vincent Gregory, a Southfield Democrat and former sheriff’s detective, said during a contentious state Senate debate that law enforcement officers are “held to a higher standard” and Etue must meet “an even higher standard.”
“We have now a colonel, the leader of the state police, that has now shown a distinct bias toward a group of citizens in the state of Michigan,” he said. “So my question is, ‘How can she continue to do this job when she’s shown a bias?’”
The ACLU of Michigan said Etue “undermined her leadership and may have irreparably damaged MSP’s relationship with communities of color.” But Republicans defended Etue. Sen Rick Jones, a former sheriff from Grand Ledge, said Etue has worked to recruit more women and minority troopers. He said the meme she shared was on her private Facebook page and that she has the same First Amendment rights as the protesting players.
Sen Patrick Colbeck, a Canton Township Republican who is running for governor, called Etue “a woman of honor, integrity” and urged NFL players to not “protest a symbol of our unity.”
Yet in an impassioned response, Sen. Coleman Young II, a Detroit Democrat, said residents are “incensed” by police actions such as those leading to the death of Grimes. Trooper Mark Bessmer is accused of firing a Taser at Grimes from his patrol car after the teen — suspected of driving his ATV illegally on the road — refused to stop. The teen crashed the ATV and died.
In related news, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said players were given assurance from team owner Jerry Richardson that they’re free to protest and express their views without having to worry about any repercussions from him.
But players said Wednesday that Richardson did warn them about potential backlash from the public.
Newton, other team captains and a few selected players met with Richardson on Tuesday at his Charlotte home to express concerns they had about protesting while playing for Richardson’s organization.
“We just wanted to meet with Mr. Richardson and discuss certain things that were on our minds and hearts from different perspectives,” Newton said.
“The people that were over there (at the meeting) come from different backgrounds and have different views. The one thing about it is we expressed those views and, more importantly, we agreed that everybody is entitled to their own thought process.”
Newton said the details of the meeting will remain confidential, but called it productive.
“It was a step in the right direction for us as an organization,” Newton said.
Richardson declined to be interviewed for this story.
It’s uncertain if the Panthers will stage any protest on Sunday during the national anthem when they visit the New England Patriots, according to Newton.
Last weekend hundreds of players around the league protested President Donald Trump’s commenting on Twitter that players who don’t stand for the national anthem should be fired. But only one Carolina player — defensive end Julius Peppers — made a stand. The 17-year veteran remained in the tunnel for the national anthem before Carolina’s game against the Saints.
Some players admitted they worried about how a protest would sit with Richardson.
“I was like man if I do sit down or kneel, or hold up a fist or stay in the locker room how it would look to the Big Cat?,” Captain Munnerlyn said, referring to Richardson’s nickname. “That’s how I felt about the situation.”
Richardson was the second-to-last NFL owner to issue a statement on Trump’s comments.
Even when he did on Monday, Richardson’s comments didn’t mention Trump, but said that “politicizing the game is damaging and takes the focus off the greatness of the game itself and those who play it.”
While Richardson has never said publically that players can’t protest, there’s been an underlying current that they’re discouraged from doing anything that might reflect poorly on the organization.