As the NFL’s Sunday games rolled on, sports announcers, commentators, and reporters began commenting on President Donald Trump’s criticisms of the national anthem protests burning throughout the league.
Fox Sports’ Terry Bradshaw, for instance, attacked the president on Sunday saying that his criticism of the anthem protests showed a lack of understanding about the freedoms enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.
Bradshaw spoke his mind during the Fox pregame on Sunday saying that the protests were all about “freedom,” Raw Story reported.
“This is America. If our country stands for anything, folks, it’s freedom,” Bradshaw said. “People died for that freedom. I’m not sure if our President understands those rights. That every American has the right to speak out also to protest. Believe me, these athletes do love our this great country of ours. Personally, I think our President should concentrate on North Korea and healthcare rather than ripping into athletes and the NFL.”
The Constitution, though, only applies to the federal government quashing free speech and President Trump did not say anything about the government taking action against the players. He only urged the owners to act. The players have every right to proclaim their hatred for the very country making them millionaires, but they don’t have the right to force fans to hear the protests nor the league to allow it.
As a private organization, the NFL is free to make its own rules of conduct within reason.
In another case, Sports Illustrated reporter Sean Gregory chimed in on Trump’s comments saying that he hopes that NFL owners “stand up to Donald Trump on national anthem protests.”
Gregory urged the owners to make a unified statement against the president of the United States. “Now’s our chance to see if NFL owners have a sliver of their mettle,” he said.
Taking perhaps a little different tact, CBS announcer James Brown urged the president to stop his attack on the NFL and instead try a little “love,” Variety reported.
During Sunday’s broadcast of “NFL Today,” Brown said:
To be dismissive, vulgar and divisive with comments that reflect a lack of understanding, insensitive, and indeed colonizing does not serve the purpose of trying to honestly resolve problems, build bridges and foster civil dialogue. What would be more effective is … the kind of dialogue that uses the four-letter word that former UCLA coach John Wooden said is the most powerful one to effect change — and that is love.
The backlash from these reporters and commentators is the result of comments the president made last Friday evening during a rally in Huntsville, Alabama, for Republican Senate candidate Luther Strange.
During the rally, Trump criticized the NFL for allowing the anthem protests, called such players “sons of b**ches,” and expressed his hope that the owners would fire protesting players.
The controversy was further fanned by a Saturday morning statement by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell who attacked Trump for creating disunity. Goodell’s statement, in turn, sparked a response by Trump who urged the commissioner to tell the players to stand during the national anthem.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.