Multiple NFL owners issued statements Saturday defending their players from president Donald Trump’s criticism.
Trump has tweeted several times expressing his anger at NFL athletes who have chosen to protest racial inequality during the national anthem before games. The president invoked players’ jobs as a privilege and said that they should not be allowed to disrespect the flag, as he perceives it. He expressed that he wants protesting players to be fired.
Ownership from a number of teams took a stand on behalf of the players.
Colts owner Jim Irsay wrote the following: “I am troubled by the President’s recent comments about our league and our players. Sports in America have the unique ability to bring people from all walks of life and from different points of view together to work toward or root for a common goal, and the Indianapolis Colts are proud to be a part of that tradition in our home city and state.
“The vast majority of players in the NFL — especially those who have worn and continue to wear the Horseshoe — have donated millions of dollars to charities, raised money for those affected by recent hurricanes, created charitable foundations, visited schools, mentored students, worked in homeless shelters, cleaned up parks, and put in hours of their personal time toward improving their communities and the lives of those around them.
“That’s the spirit in which this nation was founded, and we all need to work tirelessly to bring people together to take on the challenges that face us and give back to the people of our communities. More so than any result on the field, that is a common goal worth rooting for.”
Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk issued the following statement: “I am proud to stand with our players and support them in their work on and off the football field. I completely agree with Commissioner Goodell that we are better off as a nation when we are unified and pulling together. I have seen that kind of attitude first-hand in Tennessee and across our country in the many benevolent and public-spirited efforts of our NFL players, often without any public recognition. Our players make public contributions day-in and day-out and when I hear anyone making disparaging remarks about them, I know it has to be the result of not knowing what they bring to our communities or what they have accomplished.”
Chargers owner Dean Spanos also issued a statement: "I wholeheartedly agree with the commissioner's statement. The NFL and its players, more than anything, have been a force for good. What our country needs right now is a message of unity, civility and mutual respect."
Many NFL players have also spoken out against Trump’s comments on Twitter, as has the Players Association.
Eight NFL owners are known to have donated a total of $7.25 million toward Trump’s inauguration festivities: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Jets owner Woody Johnson, Bucs owner Ed Glazer, Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, Rams owner Stan Kroenke, Texans owner Bob McNair and Redskins owner Daniel Snyder.
The political conversation has spilled into the sports world in full this weekend, with the Golden State Warriors disinvited from the White House by Trump after Stephen Curry took a strong stance against the president’s rhetoric.