A match rich in pres­i­den­tial his­tory

USA TODAY US Edition - - FRONT PAGE - FOL­LOW COLUM­NIST CHRIS­TINE BREN­NAN @cbren­nans­ports for com­men­tary on the lat­est in sports.

Barack Obama, Ge­orge W. Bush and Bill Clin­ton made his­tory Thurs­day when they gath­ered for the Pres­i­dents Cup golf tournament at Lib­erty Na­tional Golf Course in New Jersey. It was the first time three for­mer pres­i­dents at­tended the bi­en­nial tournament, which be­gan in 1994. It matches 12 Amer­i­can golfers against 12 in­ter­na­tional golfers. For more tournament news, go to

“It’s very rare that you get three pres­i­dents in one place — very rare. ... They are all avid golfers and have done a lot for the game of golf, too.” Jor­dan Spi­eth, pro golfer

he said, are “afraid” of their play­ers. NFL spokesman Joe Lock­hart fired right back, say­ing the own­ers are “truly uni­fied in the sense that the at­tacks on the game, on the NFL, on the play­ers, were un­fair and un­founded.”

Per­haps those own­ers who fig­ured their protest­ing days were one and done now might have to con­sider an en­core, just to spite Trump.

This whole ugly episode be­gan with Trump’s hate­ful tirade against peace­ful an­them protests last Fri­day night at a po­lit­i­cal rally in Alabama: “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!”

Be­fore Trump said those words, the NFL play­ers’ protests were wan­ing and Colin Kaeper­nick him­self was out of the league and not talk­ing pub­licly.

To use the mid­dle school lingo with which we’ve all be­come so sadly fa­mil­iar, Trump started it.

Now let’s think about what would hap­pen if Trump ended it. If he stopped tweet­ing about the NFL, the play­ers could go back to sim­ply play­ing, with per­haps a few protest­ing in some way or other as they did be­fore. Trump’s base could re­turn to wor­ry­ing about other things, like build­ing that wall. And the pres­i­dent could go back to do­ing what­ever it is he’s sup­posed to be do­ing as pres­i­dent.

“This has never just been about an an­them protest,” noted civil rights ac­tivist Harry Ed­wards said in a phone in­ter­view. “I don’t think there’s any ques­tion we will see in­di­vid­u­als con­tinue to protest, but it’s about more than that. We’ve got to fig- ure out ways for teams and ath­letes to use this mega­phone for good in the coun­try. We need to move from protests to pro­grams. If we don’t do that, you’re just talk­ing about a one-day deal.”

One won­ders how his­tory will judge Trump on many is­sues, not just this one. But since we’re on this par­tic­u­lar is­sue, here’s a guess: It’s not go­ing to be good. There was a time ear­lier this week when Trump had tweeted 24 times about the NFL and only four times about the dev­as­ta­tion in Puerto Rico. Can you imag­ine what 2067 Amer­ica will think of that?

BILL STREICHER, USA TODAY SPORTS

DAN POW­ERS, APPLETON POST-CRES­CENT

While the Pack­ers and Bears locked arms, many fans just stood, some with hands over hearts.

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