For the first time in a decade, there was no presidential interview on Super Bowl Sunday but Donald Trump, who is spending the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago estate, did release a statement hours before the Patriots and Eagles face off in Super Bowl LII and it included a familiar theme: The importance of standing for the national anthem.
"As many Americans come together to watch the Super Bowl, Melania and I extend our greetings and appreciation for those who make occasions like this possible, particularly the brave men and women of our Armed Forces.
Though many of our Nation's service members are unable to be home with family and friends to enjoy this evening's American tradition, they are always in our thoughts and prayers. We owe these heroes the greatest respect for defending our liberty and our American way of life. Their sacrifice is stitched into each star and every stripe of our Star-Spangled Banner. We hold them in our hearts and thank them for our freedom as we proudly stand for the National Anthem.
We send our best wishes for an enjoyable Super Bowl Sunday. May God bless and protect our troops, and may He continue to bless the United States of America."
Respecting the military has never been the issue for why some players decided to quietly protest during the anthem, but instead they used the platform as a means to exercise their rights as Americans and shine a light on social inequality.
Back in September, during a speech in Alabama, Trump said this about players who had taken a knee in protest: "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a b***h off the field right now," the president said to a cheering crowd. "Out. He's fired. He's fired!"
Those remarks were condemned by the league office and the 32 teams but a month later, former Indiana governor and Trump's Vice President, Mike Pence, appeared to orchestrate a walk-out at the 49ers-Colts game. Pence left after one series because he said he was offended that some of the 49ers players knelt during the anthem.
Trump has occasionally tweeted about the importance of standing for the anthem in the months since, and he talked about it in last week's State of the Union Address, referencing Preston Sharp, a 12-year old boy from California, who organized a campaign to place flags on the graves of some 40,000 veterans:
"Young patriots, like Preston, teach all of us about our civic duty as Americans. And I met Preston a little while ago, and he is something very special -- that I can tell you. Great future," he said. "Thank you very much for all you've done, Preston. Thank you very much. Preston's reverence for those who have served our nation reminds us of why we salute our flag, why we put our hands on our hearts for the Pledge of Allegiance, and why we proudly stand for the national anthem."