Preparing to head to the G-7 summit, President Donald Trump spoke with reporters outside of the White House on Friday and offered a deal to NFL players wishing to kneel during the national anthem in protest of racism and police brutality:
“What I’m going to do is I’m going to say to them instead of talk … I am going to ask all of those people to recommend to me — because that’s what their protesting. People that they think were unfairly treated by the justice system … I understand that. I’m going to ask them to recommend to me people that were unfairly treated. Friends of theirs or people they know about and I’m going to take a look at those applications. If I find — if my committee finds they’re unfairly treated, we will pardon them or at least let them out.”
The president’s offer appears to be an olive branch extended on the heels of heated criticism leveled at him by players in the past few weeks.
President Trump reacted to the NFL’s new national anthem rule barring players and team personnel from sitting or kneeling during the song by lamenting their option to stay in the locker room and by suggesting that those who protest “shouldn’t be in the country.”
Several players reacted negatively to the suggestion, calling the president “an idiot, plain and simple,” his words “disgusting” and the league’s decision “not patriotism.”
The president also canceled the Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles’ trip to the White House this week after a majority of players decided not to attend, after which the NBA’s LeBron James made it clear neither team competing for the championship would visit.