Sports and politics mingle after Trump comments

Trump said players who kneel during the anthem should be fired

The American flag is presented in front of an empty Tennessee Titans bench area during the playing of the national anthem before an NFL football game between the Titans and the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. Neither team came onto the field for the anthem. (AP Photo/James Kenney)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — What started with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick protesting by taking a knee during the national anthem has become to talk of the nation again after comments President Donald Trump made at rally.

“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. He’s fired. He’s FIRED!'” he said Friday, September 22, at a rally in Alabama.

After Kaepernick’s initial actions, other players joined him and then a few more. Now after Trump’s remarks, the protests have transcended sports into politics.

Blazers star Damian Lillard at Media Day in Portland, September 25, 2017 (KOIN)
Blazers star Damian Lillard at Media Day in Portland, September 25, 2017 (KOIN)

More than 200 NFL players, coaches and even team owners took a knee or locked arms during the anthem at stadiums across the country over the weekend and Monday.

In Portland, Blazers coaches and players addressed the demonstrations and the president’s comments at media day. 

“I think it’s sad that with all that’s going on in the world, in the United States, that our president is concerned with football and basketball,” Damian Lillard said. “I think that’s crazy.”

Like many coaches in pro sports, Blazers’ head coach Terry Stotts voiced his support for athletes taking a stand by taking a knee.

“I think they are eloquent in their thoughts, I think it’s about the right things,” Stotts said.

Still some find kneeling during the national anthem disrespectful or at the very least, distracting.

“We have a lot of real problems in the country and whether somebody kneels or stands during the national anthem is not one of our higher priority problems,” said James Buchal with the Multnomah County Republicans.

The Seahawks notably were not present on the field during the national anthem prior to their game against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. The team released the following statement:

As a team, we have decided we will not participate in the national anthem. We will not stand for the injustice that has plagued people of color in this country. Out of love for our country and in honor of the sacrifices made on our behalf, we unite to oppose those that would deny our most basic freedoms. We remain committed in continuing to work towards equality and justice for all.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) and center Justin Britt (68) walk to the field with arms linked after the national anthem had been played before an NFL football game between the Seahawks and the Tennessee Titans Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. Neither team was present on the field for the playing of the anthem. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

Monday night, the Arizona Cardinals stood for the anthem with their arms locked together in solidarity and the Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones locked arms with his players, kneeling before the anthem started.

For now, it seems politics and sports are playing out in the same arena.

“I’m happy to see athletes taking a role in I guess politics coming in our direction and I’m more happy that some guys are informed,” Lillard said.