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Players Kneel In London As Trump Calls For NFL Boycott

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Update (10:35 ET): Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has become the first senior Trump administration official to publicly address Trump's feud with the NFL and NBA – the president called for fans to boycott the NFL unless owners fire or discipline players who kneel during the National Anthem – saying the issue wasn't about free speech and that players have first amendment rights when they're off the field.

"The NFL has all different types of rules … it's not about free speech. They can do free speech on their own time," Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

Mnuchin, of course, offered his thoughts about what Trump “was really trying to say” when he lashed out at sports teams. Trying to interpret or clarify Trump’s remarks to make them seem less wild/offensive/inarticulate has become common practice among members of the Trump administration. “I think what the president is saying is that owners should have a rule that players should stand and respect the national anthem” likening it to a rule about not placing stickers on helmets.

Sec. Mnuchin to @MarthaRaddatz: "It's not about free speech." NFL players "can do free speech on their own time." https://t.co/vkSBFbgFz4 pic.twitter.com/0k0yRYTuus

— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) September 24, 2017

Update (10:20 am ET): It's 10:30 ET am on a Sunday morning, and already there have been several notable developments in President Trump's feud with professional sports teams who tolerate players who kneel during the National Anthem. During the first NFL game since the feud started to escalate on Saturday, at least a dozen players on the Jacksonville Jaguars took a knee during the National Anthem at a game in London against the Baltimore Ravens, as Sports Illustrated reports.

Players from both teams stood during the playing of "God Save the Queen", though players linked arms during the song. Jaguars owner Shad Khan linked arms with Jaguars tight end linebacker Telvin Smith. Khan, who like Kraft also donated to the Trump campaign, said he would not be issuing a statement about the feud, and referred reporters to a league statement.

Unity pic.twitter.com/wSNsc4BSEV

— Jacksonville Jaguars (@Jaguars) September 24, 2017

Video of over 20 #Ravens, #Jaguars players, Ray Lewis taking knee, Jags Owner Shad Khan locking arms during Anthem pic.twitter.com/BInPLXVPc6

— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 24, 2017

Meanwhile, last night, Oakland Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first Major League Baseball player to take a knee, as Bleacher Report noted.

"The Oakland A's pride ourselves on being inclusive," the team said in a statement. "We respect and support all of our players' constitutional rights and freedom of expression."

Manager Bob Melvin told Bleacher Report that Maxwell informed the team before the game that he intended to kneel. Melvin added that Maxwell had deeply considered whether to kneel or not. Maxwell later issued a statement on twitter where he said he didn't mean to disrespect the military by kneeling. "It's not disrespectful to our constitution. It's not to disrespect our country. My hand was over my heart because I love this country. I've had plenty of family members, including my father, that have bled for this country."

Bruce Maxwell: pic.twitter.com/fRaVHf2gPs

— Jane Lee (@JaneMLB) September 24, 2017

MLB also released a statement:

"Major League Baseball has a longstanding tradition of honoring our nation prior to the start of our games. We also respect that each of our players is an individual with his own background, perspectives and opinions. We believe that our game will continue to bring our fans, their communities and our players together."

We imagine we'll see more gestures like this during NFL games set in the US later today.

* * *

Trump's bizarre, concurrent fight with the NBA and NFL, in which he slammed players who kneel during the US anthem and also rescinded an invitation to Warriors' star Stephen Curry, escalated on Sunday morning when Trump blasted a couple of tweets first saying that "If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!" The president added that "NFL attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN. Boring games yes, but many stay away because they love our country. League should back U.S."

If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017

…NFL attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN. Boring games yes, but many stay away because they love our country. League should back U.S.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017

This led to one of Trump's closest allies, New England Patriots Chariman and CEO Robert Kraft, issuing a statement shortly thereafter in which he slammed Trump's Friday comments.

The Patriots owner, who donated $1 million to Trump's inauguration committee and gave Trump a custom Super Bowl ring, issued a strongly worded rebuke to the president Sunday morning in the wake of Trump's criticism of the NFL and its players.

"I am deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the President on Friday," Kraft wrote. "I am proud to be associated with so many players who make such tremendous contributions in positively impacting our communities. Their efforts, both on and off the field, help bring people together and make our community stronger.

"There is no greater unifier in this country than sports, and unfortunately, nothing more divisive than politics. I think our political leaders could learn a lot from the lessons of teamwork and the importance of working together toward a common goal. Our players are intelligent, thoughtful and care deeply about our community and I support their right to peacefully affect social change and raise awareness in a manner that they feel is most impactful.”

Separately, Patriots tackle Nate Solder tweeted earlier on Sunday that his team is united despite any differences of opinion among players about the protests.

stand or kneel, that's a free choice, you won't see any division in this locker room over that, we respect each other too much.

— Nate Solder (@soldernate) September 24, 2017

Previously on Saturday, several NFL owners and commissioner Roger Goodell had already issued statements Saturday after Trump's feud with players who have taken a knee in protest during the national anthem. The president criticized those protests at a rally Friday in Alabama and repeated them on Twitter both Saturday and Sunday morning.

Widespread player action is expected before Sunday's games.

Below is the full statement from Patriots Chairman & CEO Robert Kraft:

"I am deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the President on Friday. I am proud to be associated with so many plagers who make such tremendous contributions in positively impacting our communities. Their efforts, both on and off the field, help bring people together and make our community stronger. There is no greater unifier in this country than sports, and unfortunately, nothing more divisive than politics. I think our political leaders could learn a lot from the lessons of  teamwork and the importance of working together toward a common goal. Our players are intelligent, thoughtful and  care deeply about our community and I support their right to peacefully affect social change and raise awareness in a manner that they feel is most impactful."

Statement from #Patriots Chairman & CEO Robert Kraft: pic.twitter.com/f5DJeK0Woj

— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 24, 2017


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