The online discourse between the Executive Office and the National Football League did not cease because Week 3 of the NFL season ended. On the contrary, it may have been ratcheted up a notch on Tuesday morning by President Donald Trump, who let the world know he was thrilled to hear fans booing when members of the Cowboys team dropped to their knees prior to the national anthem on Monday night.
Trump applauded the "great anger" he heard from the fans.
The booing at the NFL football game last night, when the entire Dallas team dropped to its knees, was loudest I have ever heard. Great anger— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2017
But he also said he was pleased with the decision by Dallas to stand for the national anthem, calling it "big progress."
But while Dallas dropped to its knees as a team, they all stood up for our National Anthem. Big progress being made-we all love our country!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2017
Trump later added he believes the NFL needs to "set a rule" saying players cannot kneel during the national anthem.
The NFL has all sorts of rules and regulations. The only way out for them is to set a rule that you can't kneel during our National Anthem!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2017
Worth noting here: players were not required to be on the field for the national anthem until 2009, when the NFL instituted that rule, largely as a way of cranking up the patriotism you see on the field before NFL games. Trump also said he believes ratings are "way down" for NFL games, except when people tune in before the game to see whether the country is "disrespected."
Ratings for NFL football are way down except before game starts, when people tune in to see whether or not our country will be disrespected!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2017
There is a lot to unpack from just an hour or so of the president's personal Twitter feed. For starters, "great anger" feels counterintuitive to the point here: anger is bad and if everyone were less angry this might be a little less of a problem. "Big progress" also feels like maybe something that is not happening at the moment, although the unity showed by teams and players has been a positive thing. Again, the anthem stuff is new and the NFL has pointed out recently it does not and will not have a rule about standing.
As for the ratings, it seems counterintuitive to suggest that people are both boycotting the NFL because of the anthem protests and tuning in only for the anthem protests. That makes little sense. Also, ratings are up so far this season from last year.
First 4 MNF games on ESPN in 2017 have averaged a 7.8 overnight rating.— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) September 26, 2017
First 4 MNF games on ESPN in 2016 averaged a 6.5 overnight rating.
With the inclusion of MNF, overnight ratings for Week 3 Sun-Mon NFL games finish up +3% in aggregate.— Michael Mulvihill (@mulvihill79) September 26, 2017
The president kickstarted a weekend of protests and demonstrations from NFL players when he said anyone not standing for the national anthem before a football game.
"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a b---- off the field right now. Out," Trump said. "He's fired. He's fired!"
As a result, Jaguars owner in London, and prior to the Monday night game.of some kind about the situation and nearly every NFL game featured at least one demonstration from a player or entire roster.