President Donald Trump now has a lower opinion of the NFL’s new national anthem policy.
Trump, as you know, has gone after the NFL numerous times for players protesting systemic injustice during the national anthem before games. In an attempt to avoid future protests and the kerfuffle that surrounds them, players don’t have to be on the field during the anthem starting in 2018. Those that are on the field have to stand for the anthem.
Thursday night, Trump showed that he’s still unhappy with the NFL.
Trump previously said new policy was ‘as disrespectful’
The president was in Montana for a political rally and riffed on a number of topics including the NFL, which came up late in his event.
“If you don’t respect the flag or you don’t like the country or whatever it is just go into the locker room,” Trump said. “Just go into the locker room. I think in many respects that’s worse. Isn’t that worse than having them not standing?”
He then repeated his claim that in many respects the policy was worse than having players kneeling on the field.
The “worse” is different from a Trump tweet following the fiasco between the White House and the Philadelphia Eagles in June. He said the new policy was “as disrespectful” as the old one on June 4. There have been no NFL games played in the 31 days since Trump’s tweet and his comments Thursday night.
The Philadelphia Eagles Football Team was invited to the White House. Unfortunately, only a small number of players decided to come, and we canceled the event. Staying in the Locker Room for the playing of our National Anthem is as disrespectful to our country as kneeling. Sorry!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2018
Trump also went after Roger Goodell, took credit for NFL ratings slide
Right after talking about the NFL’s anthem policy, Trump then took a swipe at commissioner Roger Goodell’s salary and tried to say that attention paid to himself on cable news was a big reason for the NFL’s television ratings decline in 2017.
“This commissioner, where this guy comes from I have no idea,” Trump said. “They’re paying him $40 million a year and their ratings are down 20 percent. You know why their ratings are down? Yes, the flag, but their ratings are down because people find politics — in other words, hitting Trump incorrectly, but hitting Trump — they find that to be much tougher, meaner and more interesting than watching a football game. They actually do.”
Trump’s claim that the NFL lost a fifth of its viewers in 2017 is greatly exaggerated. Regular season ratings were down approximately 10 percent — half of Trump’s claim, and the Super Bowl had an average of 103 million viewers, down from 111 million in February of 2017.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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