The NFL had been pretty quiet in terms of bad publicity lately - until Marshawn Lynch of the Oakland Raiders refused to stand for the national anthem Sunday and once again reignited the feud between the league and the president.
Marshawn Lynch of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders stands for the Mexican Anthem and sits down to boos for our National Anthem. Great disrespect! Next time NFL should suspend him for remainder of season. Attendance and ratings way down.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 20, 2017
Herschel Walker, a Heisman Trophy-winning former NFL running back, took the president's side on this one. In an interview with Fox News, Walker blamed not just the players, but the NFL's top brass as well.
Walker said he's "insulted" by the anthem protests, believing Lynch is "taking this as a joke." The former Dallas Cowboy and Minnesota Viking faulted commissioner Roger Goodell for failing to take a stand when the protests started.
"I said guys should be suspended at the beginning. I don't care what people say. The national anthem is the United States of America. ... You never protest that," the 1982 Heisman Trophy winner said.
Trump first weighed in to the national anthem debate during a campaign rally for Luther Strange in the Alabama Senate race in September. At the rally, the president said any "SOB" who kneels during the anthem deserves to be taken off the field. That public rebuke angered professional players to the point that over 200 NFL athletes knelt during the anthem that following Sunday in a united front against the president. Several mixed messages later from Goodell and league owners and far fewer players are kneeling during the playing of the anthem. But, as you can see, there are still some rebels.
Unfortunately for those kneeling players, over 80 percent of football fans do not approve of their protests, and it's reflecting in the ratings.