President Trump wasted no time blitzing the NFL as two dozen players knelt or sat Sunday during the national anthem, days after the league punted on the issue at its fall meeting in New York.
“Two dozen NFL players continue to kneel during the National Anthem, showing total disrespect to our Flag & Country. No leadership in NFL!” said Mr. Trump in a Monday tweet.
Two dozen NFL players continue to kneel during the National Anthem, showing total disrespect to our Flag & Country. No leadership in NFL!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 23, 2017
The number of those refusing to stand increased slightly Sunday as 20 players opted to kneel or sit for the national anthem, versus about a dozen last weekend. Several others raised fists or remained in the tunnel during the ceremony.
The difference could be chalked up to the Seattle Seahawks, who had a bye week last weekend but whose players have been among the NFL’s most active protesters, along with those from the San Francisco 49ers.
Eight Seahawks players sat and one took a knee at Sunday’s away game against the New York Giants, while seven 49ers took a knee before the game against the Dallas Cowboys in Santa Clara, California, according to the Week 7 tally by ESPN.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, all of whose players stood for the national anthem, said Sunday he was worried about the impact of the protest on the NFL.
“There is no question the league is suffering negative effects from these protests,” Mr. Jones told the Fort Wort Star-Telegram.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said last week that owners and players agreed to work together on “issues of social justice” at Tuesday’s meeting, but that he didn’t ask the players for a commitment to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The league has struggled with falling ratings and fan outrage in reaction to the protests, which began last season as a statement against the deaths of black men at the hands of law enforcement.
Mr. Jones said last week that any players who refuse to stand for the anthem would be benched, while Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase said that players who object to standing may remain in the tunnel or locker room.
Ratings have dipped by about 5 percent this season, but television ad revenue increased in September by 2 percent from the same time last year, rising from $504 million to $513 million, according to AdWeek, citing newly released data from the Standard Media Index.
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