United States House of Representatives member Pete King blasted New York Jets chairman Christopher Johnson on Saturday for his stance on protests by players during the national anthem.
King—a Republican who represents New York's second congressional district—said the following regarding the organization:
Rep. Pete King @RepPeteKing
Disgraceful that @nyjets owner will pay fines for players who kneel for National Anthem. 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!
On Wednesday, Johnson told Bob Glauber of Newsday that he won't fine or suspend his players if they decide to protest this season:
"I do not like imposing any club-specific rules. If somebody [on the Jets] takes a knee, that fine will be borne by the organization, by me, not the players. I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players. Do I prefer that they stand? Of course. But I understand if they felt the need to protest. There are some big, complicated issues that we're all struggling with, and our players are on the front lines. I don't want to come down on them like a ton of bricks, and I won't. There will be no club fines or suspensions or any sort of repercussions. If the team gets fined, that's just something I'll have to bear."
Last week, the NFL passed a policy that will result in fines for teams if their players or personnel protest during the anthem on the field before games.
The NFL won't discipline players, but it will allow individual organizations to do so if players are perceived to have disrespected the national anthem and the flag.
In an effort to prevent protests, the NFL will permit players to remain in the locker room during the anthem if they so choose.
The NFL Players Association released the following statement regarding the new rule:
Kneeling during the anthem began during the 2016 preseason when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick became the first to do so as a means of protesting racial injustice and police brutality.
Kaepernick went unsigned last season as a free agent, but players across the league continued to protest.