Sports | September 29, 2017 9:16 am

NFL Says Message of Player Anthem Protests Getting Lost in Politics

League spokesman Joe Lockhart: Trump is distorting views of league, players.

Week 1 Fantasy Football Autopsy
Malcolm Jenkins #27 of the Philadelphia Eagles raises his fist as he stands during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on September 10, 2017 in Landover, Maryland. (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

The Commander-in-Tweet is not making too many friends in the National Football League. According to the Associated Press, league spokesman Joe Lockhart—who himself was President Bill Clinton’s former press secretary—that the player anthem protests have been “overtaken by political forces,” about President Trump’s criticism of the league and its players on Twitter.

“One of the impacts is to distort the views of the NFL and particularly our players,” Lockhart said yesterday. “[Players] are under attack now and the [original] lesson has been forgotten. It is important for everyone to understand what they are talking about, to not see everything in terms of who is up or down politically.”

Lockhart also called the protesting NFL players “men of character, many of whom are leaders in their community,” describing them as “patriotic” and supportive of the military. “They understand their platform can be used to make the country a better place,” said Lockhart.

This comes in the wake of widespread Week 3 anthem protests across the NFL, during which hundreds of players knelt, raised fists, and locked arms—with a few teams not even take the field.

The remarks also follow at least two situations in which a player has been adversely affected for protesting. Tight end Delanie Walker of the Tennessee Titans said he and his family had received death threats for comments he made in support of player protests. And Detroit Lions’ defensive tackle Akeem Spence alleged on Twitter that his father had lost work because of his “peaceful protest.”