NFL fans side with players, want Trump to stop attacking right to protest


More and more Americans support the right of NFL players to protest, and most Americans want Trump to butt out.

Sixty-one percent of NFL fans say they support the rights of professional football players to silently protest social injustice during the national anthem. Specifically, they insist Donald Trump is wrong to urge league officials to fire protesting players.

That’s according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll on the controversial issue that Trump has elevated to weird cultural war status in recent days. The new findings demolish the right-wing media talking point that Trump is leading some kind of grassroots, populist charge with his race-baiting attacks on the NFL.

57 percent of adults do not think the National Football League should fire players who kneel,” Reuters reported. “This included 61 percent of NFL fans who watch at least a few games per season.”

Additionally, 53 percent of Americans don’t think it’s appropriate for the president to comment on “how the NFL and its players conduct themselves during the national anthem.” While 58 percent of respondents personally think players should stand, a clear majority defends the players’ rights to protest police brutality without fear of losing their jobs.

Significantly, in the last year there’s been major public opinion movement on the NFL issue. And it’s significant movement in support for those political protests about inequality.

“In the latest poll, 40 percent of Americans said that they support the stance that some pro football players have made to not stand during the anthem,” Reuters reports. “That is up from 28 percent who answered the same way in a similar Reuters/Ipsos poll last year.”

And that’s how culture and political movements often work: They sometimes start out deeply unpopular and then over time, as more people are exposed to the issue and as debates are aired, more Americans embrace the premise as fair and equitable.

That’s exactly what’s happening with the NFL protest debate. Meaning, based on the current trajectory, if there’s polling done one year from now on the issue, it’s likely that a majority of Americans would support the movement to stage silence political protests.

What’s so astonishing about Trump’s decision to wage war with the hugely popular NFL is that the issue of the protests had been simmering for over a year. And for the first two weeks of the current NFL season it had been of minor public attention as just a handful of players conducted silent sideline rituals in hopes of raising social awareness.

Just prior to the leagues third week, Trump announced, “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.’ He’s fired!”

Trump’s now promoting the issue as if it’s some sort of national crisis as he routinely spends his time tweeting about it. Yet Trump ignored the issue for months.

And now most Americans want him to drop it.