NFL players are firing back at President Donald Trump.
Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin and Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall took exception to the President’s comments on “Fox and Friends” on Thursday, when he lauded the NFL’s new national anthem policy requiring players to stand and said that for anyone who does not, “maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.”
“He’s an idiot. Plain and simple,” Baldwin said on Friday. “I respect the man because he’s a human being first and foremost, but he’s just being divisive, which is not surprising. It is what it is. But for him to say anybody who doesn’t follow his viewpoints or constituents’ viewpoints should be kicked out of the country is not very empathetic. It’s not very American like, actually, to me. It’s not very patriotic. It’s not what this country was founded upon. It’s kind of ironic to me that the President of the United States is contradicting what our country is really built on.”
Marshall, who was among the first players to follow Colin Kaepernick’s lead when he began the movement of kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality, called Trump’s comments “disgusting.”
“I say ‘disgusting’ because of our First Amendment rights,” he said. “We have freedom of speech, right? Freedom to protest? Because somebody decides to protest something (we) have to be kicked out of the country? That’s not how things should work, in my opinion. … Just because somebody disagrees with something, or if I didn’t stand for the anthem, or if I don’t like what’s going on, that’s basically him saying I should be kicked out of the country.”
Marshall also played with Kaepernick at the University of Nevada and keeps in touch with him. The 28-year-old linebacker has also done work within the community, reaching out to the Denver Police Department about their use-of-force policy.
“We’re supposed to have a conversation about things, talk about things, work things through,” he said. “Everybody is not gonna agree on things. Everybody is not gonna have the same opinion on things. So just because somebody disagrees or has an issue with something that’s going on in this country, it doesn’t mean that they should pack up and leave. That’s absurd, in my opinion.”
Trump has been battling the NFL on the anthem issue since last September when at a rally in Alabama he referred to any player who knelt as a “son of a bitch” and that owners should fire them. The comments drew the ire of players across the league and resulted in a significant increase in the amount of players who chose to kneel during the national anthem the following week.
The White House took a victory lap on Wednesday when the league owners reached a decision on the new policy requiring players to “stand and respect the flag,” while anyone who wants to protest can remain in the locker room.
Teams can develop their own rules for anyone who continues to protest during the anthem while the commissioner will “discipline any league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and anthem.”
Marshall warned that the new policy could backfire on the NFL.