More and more NFL players say they will kneel despite Trump’s threat Right away

More and more American football players from the National Football League (NFL) say they plan to kneel during the U.S. national anthem next season in protest. President Donald Trump on Saturday threatened not to watch the NFL if there is a knee injury.

Baker Mayfield, the Cleveland Browns quarterback, leaves no doubt in a comment on a fan’s Instagram post about his plans when the NFL season begins in September.

“Wake up, I’m going to kneel absolutely,” Answers Mayfield, a white man, to a fan who asked him if he wanted to kneel.

The gesture was introduced in 2016 by then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who protested police violence against minorities. Because of his connection to the American national anthem and the American flag, he was much more critical, including from Trump.

Kaepernick, now 32, hasn’t played a game in the NFL since New Year 2017, but his protest gesture has become a major symbol of The Black Lives Matter protests after George Floyd’s death.

Turnaround in the NFL

There is also a marked turnaround in the NFL. Chief Executive Roger Goodell admitted in a video last week that it was wrong not to hear black players sooner. He encouraged everyone to speak out and protest peacefully, though he did not explicitly mention Kaepernick’s name or kneeling.

Still, it seems highly unlikely that the NFL will take action next season against players who kneel during the national anthem. The American Football Association passed a rule two years ago that players must stand for the national anthem when they are on the field, but after consulting with the players’ union, that rule was never followed.

What is certain is that NFL players have been very open about their plans to kneel in recent weeks. Washington Redskins player Adrian Peterson, one of the best running backs of the century, said last week that he has no doubt squatting and that he expects many players to feel the same.

New England Patriots coach James White predicted his team will find a way to protest peacefully, and Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien said Friday that he would kneel with his players if they decide.

Trump reacts on Twitter

Trump made it clear four years ago that he is against kneeling. “Get that Son of a whore off the field,” he said of kneeling players at a 2016 election rally.

The president reiterated his opinion Saturday in a series of tweets in which he responded to a news report about the U.S. Soccer Federation that this week lifted the rule that players and staff must stand during the national anthem.

“I’m not going to watch (the U.S. soccer teams, ed.),” Trump wrote. And it looks like the NFL is moving in the same direction, but I’m not going to watch!”

The new NFL season begins on September 10, when the Corona crisis doesn’t delay it.