Friday was an eventful day in the life of President Donald Trump. Not only did he push the world one tweet closer to the brink of nuclear war with North Korea, but he managed to slander a collection of NFL players for simply exercising their First Amendment right.
Not only are organized sports a wholly inappropriate topic for a president to discuss during a time rife with serious political tensions, but Trump’s denunciations are grossly misdirected at the wrong group of football players.
At a Friday rally in Huntsville, Alabama, Trump boasted, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say ‘Get that son of a
b—— off the field. He’s fired!’?”
The comment was in reference to some football players — most notably former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick — refusing to stand during The Star-Spangled Banner in protest of the systemic oppression of black people in the U.S.
The president’s remarks are troubling on multiple levels.
First of all, such a nonchalant use of profanity coming from the so-called leader of the free world is unacceptable and speaks to the president’s inability to behave in a respectable manner.
Moreover, considering the fact there are millions of Americans who have just been devastated by catastrophic hurricanes, one would hope the president would devote his platform to more pressing issues than athletes kneeling during a song as an act of peaceful protest.
However, if Trump is going to ignore serious public policy concerns to instead condemn football players’ conduct, it would be of some conciliation if he disparaged athletes who committed actual crimes rather than defame athletes for practicing their right to free speech.
Indeed, there is no shortage of football players with problematic legal histories who remain employed in the NFL.
There are so many, in fact, that USA Today maintains an online database listing the names of NFL players who have been arrested for a multitude of offenses.
Among these names is Willie Snead, a wide receiver for the New Orleans Saints. In June, he was arrested in Kenner, Louisiana, for driving while intoxicated and crashing his car as a result. Officers determined that Snead’s blood-alcohol concentration was .125 percent at the time of his arrest, which is much higher than Louisiana’s legal limit that one’s blood-alcohol concentration can be while driving — .08 percent, according to DrivingLaws.org.
The NFL disciplined Snead by merely suspending him for three games, despite the fact that he could’ve injured or killed innocent people as a result of his reckless, unlawful actions.
Another case with a questionable outcome is that of running back Adrian Peterson, who, in 2014, was indicted by a grand jury under a child abuse charge for beating and injuring his four year old son with a tree branch.
Peterson was suspended from the NFL for the remainder of the 2014 season, was charged a fine of $4,000 and was required to complete 80 hours of community service while serving probation as punishment. Despite all of this, Peterson — a child abuser — was permitted to return to play in the NFL for the 2015 season.
It is now 2017 and both of these men are still actively playing in the NFL.
Meanwhile Kaepernick, the first “son of a b—-” to kneel during the national anthem, has yet to be signed by another team.
It is outrageous that Trump says players like Kaepernick, who are not committing any crimes but are invoking a right fundamental to liberal democracy, should lose their jobs.
He should be outraged, if anything, by the fact that players like Snead and Peterson haven’t been fired from the NFL for jeopardizing others’ lives with their irrational, illegal behaviors. However, sound judgment should not be expected from the same president who threatens to start a nuclear war over Twitter.
Delaney Mutchler is a freshman majoring in English.