Mike Pouncey on Donald Trump and Protesting: 'If He Wants to Talk, We'll Talk'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 17, 2018

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 17: Mike Pouncey #51 of the Miami Dolphins smiles as he takes the field during NFL game action against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field on December 17, 2017 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Los Angeles Chargers offensive lineman Mike Pouncey said he believes NFL players would be willing to have a dialogue with President Donald Trump regarding presidential pardons.

"I don't think he has a bad relationship [with us]," Pouncey told TMZ Sports. "If he wants to talk, we'll talk."

Trump, who has consistently been critical of NFL players who protest racial inequality and police brutality by kneeling or demonstrating during the playing of the national anthem before games, said earlier in June he would be willing to speak with players about potentially pardoning inmates who were unjustly imprisoned. 

"I am going to ask all of those people to recommend to me, because that's what they're protesting—people that they think were unfairly treated by the justice system," Trump said. "And I understand that. They've seen a lot of abuse, and they've seen a lot of unfairness."

But critics of Trump expressed reservations about how genuine the president—who has used the anthem debate as political fodder to appeal to his base—was being.

"His suggestion that he might bring NFL players into the pardon process must be viewed as nothing less than a cynical, self-serving ploy to create a photo op with NFL players, many of whom have made it clear that they would not be caught standing downwind from him, much less next to him," Harry Edwards, a sociologist and civil rights activist from the University of California at Berkeley, told Reuters.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, for instance, revealed during his testimony in the Colin Kaepernick collusion case that Trump revealed to him the anthem was a strong talking point for his base.

"This is very winning, strong issue for me," Jones said Trump told him, per ESPN.com. "Tell everybody, you can't win this one. This one lifts me."

Based on those comments alone, many NFL players may have difficulty believing Trump is interested in working with them to enact social change. But Pouncey, at least, expressed interest in speaking with the president.

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