Sports | May 24, 2018 9:49 am

How President Trump and NFL Players Reacted to the New Anthem Policy

"Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country," he said of players who take a knee.

Members of the Houston Texans, including Kevin Johnson #30 and Lamarr Houston #58, kneel during the national anthem before the game at CenturyLink Field on October 29, 2017 in Seattle, Washington.  (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Members of the Houston Texans, including Kevin Johnson #30 and Lamarr Houston #58, kneel during the national anthem before the game at CenturyLink Field on October 29, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Much like the reaction when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat and later kneeled during the national anthem in 2016, the response to the NFL’s new anthem policy has been passionate and split down the middle.

Unveiled on Wednesday, the new policy allows players and team personnel to remain in the locker room if they want, but requires them to stand and “show respect” if they choose to be on the field for the anthem.

Designed to be a compromise between protesters and patriots, the immediate reaction to the policy indicated neither side was pleased with what the owners have done and the potential loopholes for other forms of on-field protests their decision creates.  

On Thursday, perhaps the biggest documented anti-anthem protester, President Trump, weighed in on the NFL’s revised policy.

Speaking to Fox & Friends, Trump said NFL owners “did the right thing” but did seem to indicate he wished they’d taken the policy a little further.

“I don’t think people should be staying in the locker rooms, but still I think it’s good,” he said. “You have to stand proudly for the national anthem, or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem.”


Players on the other side of the issue had a much different reaction than President Trump’s response.

The NFL Players Association also took exception with the NFL’s decision.

With the start of the NFL season still months away, it will be intriguing to see if the reaction from players and the NFLPA is enough to get the NFL to tweak its new policy before it is even implemented.

Should that happen, President Trump’s response will likely be even more forceful, and divisive, than what he said today.