NFL national anthem protests could rise after Donald Trump comments

The national anthem will be in the spotlight throughout the NFL on Sunday. (Bill Ingram/The Post)

NEW YORK—The singing of the national anthem at Sunday’s Dolphins-Jets game could get interesting.

Miami was one of the teams at the forefront of last year’s protests as four players kneeled during the anthem at the opener in Seattle, and owner Stephen Ross supported them publicly. Kenny Stills and Michael Thomas, who were speaking up against racial inequality in our country, continued to do so the rest of the season.

The Dolphins have not demonstrated at any of their five games this year, counting four preseason ones, but Friday’s comments by Donald Trump will surely make some of the men in that locker room consider taking a stand.

“That’s a total disrespect of our heritage,” Trump said of anthem protests while speaking at an event in Alabama. “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now’? Out. He’s fired. He’s fired.”

He went on to say, among other opinions about the NFL, that the sport’s TV ratings have declined because people are more interested in watching “yours truly.”

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued a statement saying Trump showed “an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players.” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said his union will never stop “protecting the constitutional rights of our players as citizens.”

Trump’s words seem far more likely to increase protests rather than discourage them.

Stills and Thomas both decided to stop kneeling this year, with Stills saying he believed he’d sufficiently made his point last season and wouldn’t accomplish anything by continuing it. Stills later said he was still considering it.

Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler also likely has an opinion since he publicly supported Trump during the 2016 election. Cutler has not been asked about his politics since joining the Dolphins last month.

Both are very mindful politically and socially, and they’re not the only ones. Several Dolphins players reacted on Twitter in the first 24 hours after his comments.

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