A new report from the New York Times sheds light on a meeting held between players and owners that discussed various topics, most notably, the National Anthem controversy and President Donald Trump.
During that confidential meeting, around 30 NFL owners, players and executives directly addressed President Donald Trump’s tactics and how he was using the kneeling controversy to criticize players as well as the leadership in the NFL for not handling it.
“The New England Patriots owner Robert K. Kraft pointed to another “elephant in the room.”
“This kneeling,” he said.
“The problem we have is, we have a president who will use that as fodder to do his mission that I don’t feel is in the best interests of America,” said Kraft, who is a longtime supporter of Mr. Trump’s. “It’s divisive and it’s horrible.”
The owners were intent on finding a way to avoid Trump’s continued criticism. The president’s persistent jabs on Twitter had turned many fans against the league. Lurie, who called Trump’s presidency “disastrous,” cautioned against players getting drawn into the president’s tactics.
“We’ve got to be careful not to be baited by Trump or whomever else,” Lurie said. “We have to find a way to not be divided and not get baited.”
The Buffalo Bills owner Terry Pegula sounded anguished over the uncertainty of when Trump would take another shot at the league. “All Donald needs to do is to start to do this again,” Pegula said. “We need some kind of immediate plan because of what’s going on in society. All of us now, we need to put a Band-Aid on what’s going on in the country.”
The Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan countered that the worst was behind them. “All the damage Trump’s going to do is done,” he said.”
During the height of the Anthem problem, NFL ratings were steadily dropping and different fan bases began to burn memorabilia and threaten a boycott of the league, which made former sponsors like Papa John’s CEO speak out about declining sales that ultimately backfired on him.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has yet to sign with a football team since he kicked off the Anthem kneeling and is widely believed to be blackballed from the league as a result.