The NFL’s national anthem debate continues to bring out the worst in some people, this time it is New York state representative Pete King.
The Republican congressman likened players who chose to kneel during the national anthem to giving the Nazi salute in a tweet on Saturday morning. He also blasted Jets owner Christopher Johnson in the same tweet for offering to pay the fines of any player who continues to protest police brutality and racial injustice.
“Disgraceful that @nyjets owner will pay fines for those who kneel during National Anthem,” King tweeted. “Encouraging a movement premised on lies vs. police. Would he support all player protests? Would he pay fines of players giving Nazi salutes or spew racism? It’s time to say goodbye to Jets!”
The NFL’s new rule requires players to “stand and show respect for the anthem” but allows anyone who wishes to protest to remain in the locker room. Should a player kneel or “not show respect” for the anthem the team would be subject to fines from the commissioner’s office.
Johnson, who by all accounts supported the new policy in an informal vote passed by owners on Wednesday, said he would not pass on the fines to any player who chooses to protest.
“I plan to sit in the very near term with Coach (Todd) Bowles and our player’s to discuss today’s decision regarding the National Anthem,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “As I have in the past, I will support our players wherever we land as a team. Our focus is not on imposing any club rules, fines, or restrictions. Instead we will continue to work closely with our players to constructively advance social justice issues that are important to us.”
Johnson, whose brother Woody left the Jets ownership when he was appointed by President Donald Trump as Ambassador to the U.K., has been the only owner who has vowed to pay the fines of anyone who protests.
San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York and Raiders owner Mark Davis said they abstained from voting on the new policy.
Meanwhile, King’s outlandish comments come in the wake of Trump’s suggestion in an interview on “Fox and Friends” Thursday morning that anyone who does not stand for the anthem maybe “shouldn’t be in the country.”
Trump’s comments sparked reaction from some NFL players, with Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin calling him an “idiot.”