Commentary: NFL stands united, unified amidst criticism from President Trump

CARSON, CA - SEPTEMBER 24: The Kansas City Chiefs during national anthem before the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at the StubHub Center on September 24, 2017 in Carson, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

We saw a number of different approaches to the national anthem today – including with the Seahawks. But for all that variety, there was one thing readily apparent: A united front in the messaging by the NFL in response to these comments by President Donald Trump over the weekend.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when someone disrespects our flag, to say ‘Get that son of a bitch of the field right now. Out. He’s fired. FIRED!” Trump said in a rally in Alabama on Friday.

This morning, the president doubled down, with this tweet: “If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!”

Who knows what the longterm effects will be. Some might boycott or stop paying attention – check social media, many have threatened to or have already.

But the league itself showed it’s willing to defend its players. From the commissioner, to the owners, to the players association, all came out in support.

No one, it seems, is getting fired.

And all of them, it seems, relayed a similar message: Upholding the players’ freedom to peacefully express themselves, and highlighting the meaningful efforts they make in their respective communities to bring about positive change.

In a statement, Doug Baldwin said he believed this would be a unifying moment for the sports world. And so far, it looks like he was right. Because, while there might be disagreement about the exact method of expressing themselves, the players, coaches, owners and league are banded together – no one reprimanding the athletes for stepping out of turn.

In fact, I’ve never seen the NFLPA and Commissioner’s office this close to being in lockstep with one another – they might want to negotiate a new Collective Bargaining Agreement right now!

All kidding aside, it’s clear the President’s comments struck a major nerve. The response will continue to be front and center every time the national anthem is played. The players will continue to argue this has nothing to do with respecting the military or our country – that their intended message is one of inclusion, diversity, equality and respect. The president and his supporters will continue to disagree.

What comes of the NFL in terms of ratings and popularity is yet to be seen – and there’s no scientific way to prove the cause and effect of the players’ demonstrations in that regard.

But what isn’t going unnoticed is the unwavering support of their employer: A league, standing strong, amidst scrutiny from the highest office in the land.