New York Republican Representative Peter King compared National Football League Players who kneel during the National Anthem to giving the Nazi salute.
Saturday, King slammed New York Jets co-owner and chairman Christopher Johnson who announced on Wednesday that he would pay fines for any of the players who wanted to kneel during the National Anthem. The Republican representative said it was “time to say goodbye to the Jets” for their decision.
“Disgraceful that @nyjets owner will pay fines for players who kneel for National Anthem. Encouraging a movement premised on lies vs. police. Would he support all player protests? Would he pay fines of players giving Nazi salutes or spew racism? It’s time to say goodbye to Jets!” King tweeted.
The NFL announced Wednesday that players will be required to “stand and show respect” for the national anthem. Team players have the option of remaining in the locker room if they do not want to stand for the anthem, but teams will be fined if anyone takes a knee on the field.
Johnson, who has been openly critical of the kneeling ban, told Newsday that he understands the players rights to protest on the field. He said he would “never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players.”
“Do I prefer that they stand? Of course. But I understand if they felt the need to protest. There are some big, complicated issues that we’re all struggling with, and our players are on the front lines,” Johnson said. “I don’t want to come down on them like a ton of bricks, and I won’t. There will be no club fines or suspensions or any sort of repercussions. If the team gets fined, that’s just something I’ll have to bear.”
After the announcement of the new rule, Johnson said in a statement that the team "will continue to work closely with our players to constructively advance social justice issues that are important to us."
The kneeling ban was put into place after President Donald Trump and others criticized the players for protesting against racial inequality and police brutality. Many other NFL players have spoken out against the new rule and expressed their disappointment in the decision.
"I'm not surprised - the NFL cares about one thing and that's the NFL - that's the bottom line...I'm not surprised, I'm disappointed,” Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin said during an interview with ESPN Seattle.
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