Roger Goodell Tells Peter King He's Proud of How NFL Responded to Donald Trump

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistSeptember 25, 2017

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell visits on the sidelines during warm ups before an NFL football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told Peter King of SI.com that he was proud of the league-wide reaction Sunday to President Donald Trump's comments the day before suggesting that NFL players who protested during the national anthem should be kicked off the field or lose their jobs.

"The way we reacted today, and this weekend, made me proud," Goodell said. "I’m proud of our league."

Goodell added that Sunday's protests—as NFL players, coaches and even some owners locked arms around the league, with others taking a knee or raising a fist, and full teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks staying in the locker room during the national anthem—"reflected the frustration, the disappointment, of the players over the divisive rhetoric." 

Unsurprisingly, Trump continued to Tweet on Sunday and into Monday about the issue: 

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

Great solidarity for our National Anthem and for our Country. Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable. Bad ratings!

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

Sports fans should never condone players that do not stand proud for their National Anthem or their Country. NFL should change policy!

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump


But even Tom Brady—who previously had a "Make America Great Again" hat in his locker and had described Trump as a friend—decried the comments of the President.

"Yeah, I certainly disagree with what he said. I thought it was just divisive," he told the Kirk & Callahan show on Monday, per Ryan Hannable of WEEI.com. "Like I said, I just want to support my teammates. I am never one to say, 'Oh, that is wrong. That is right.' I do believe in what I believe in. I believe in bringing people together and respect and love and trust. Those are the values that my parents instilled in me. That is how I try and live every day."

Brady was among those players who linked arms with his teammates during the anthem. King estimated that over 250 players protested or demonstrated Sunday. The previous weekend, he put that number at fewer than 10. He also spoke with Goodell about the new division between the league and Trump.

"I think we have to be focused on what the NFL is doing—staying true to our values, unifying people and continuing an effort to understand and help improve our communities," Goodell said. "People love coming together around football. We saw nothing but exciting football today. I think the public loves our game and recognizes the efforts we’re making with it."

Goodell added that he didn't fear a long-term conflict between the NFL and the president.

"We live in an imperfect society," he said. "A public discourse makes us strong."


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