Two high-profile NFL quarterbacks and some of their teammates made a tasteless political spectacle of their game on Thanksgiving Day, and President Donald Trump left little doubt about how he felt about it.
Their holiday matchup was sure to feature some pretty underwhelming football.
The least the two could have done for a divided country fighting through a public health crisis and a still-contested presidential election was to stand for their country’s flag and national anthem.
Instead, both men knelt during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” as did a few other players.
Images of the political spectacle went viral online.
Trump came across one of them and let his thoughts be known.
He shared a tweet from a sports fan account containing images of the NFL quarterbacks kneeling.
QB’s Deshaun Watson (Houston Texans) & Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions) exercising Social Justice support during the National Anthem minutes ago pic.twitter.com/wFjYottdwp
— DEE SPORTS GUY (@RodH75727469) November 26, 2020
The president simply commented, “No thanks!”
No thanks! https://t.co/IYQSotnMG9
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 26, 2020
In that moment, Trump was every onetime NFL fan currently avoiding the league because of its embrace of political activism and promotion of leftist causes.
He had signaled back in June that he had no plans to tune in to professional football should players take the route of publicly disrespecting the country’s flag and anthem.
And it looks like the NFL is heading in that direction also, but not with me watching! https://t.co/aGfBaK7RNA
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2020
Many people have joined the president in not watching, as is apparent by the NFL’s primetime Sunday and Monday night games no longer being must-see TV.
Sports Media Watch reported that as of last week, viewership for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” had slipped for all but one game this season compared with last year.
Similarly, on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” ratings have dropped 28 percent over last season.
Watson’s Texans won Thursday, but professional football continues to lose.
The NFL had a chance to remind the American people that it could still serve as an entertaining escape from the seriousness of daily life.
The league could have sent a message that amid troubled times, we could all be united by sports.
But two of the NFL’s quarterbacks instead chose to dig in with their activism and further the division, and the NFL’s leaders have given those actions their full endorsement.
At least for now, the country still has a president who’s willing to call them out for it.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.