Field Gulls has always been a “no politics” blog. But at a certain point, in rare instances that will not bleed beyond this post until it has to and when it directly involves the NFL or pertinent Seattle Seahawks players, coaches, or executives, it would be irresponsible to remain totally silent.
This post intends to take no side, but only to report the news as we are witnessing it.
President Donald Trump directly called out NFL owners at a rally in Alabama this weekend for not punishing players who have protested during the national anthem. Said Trump:
"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a b---- off the field right now. Out. He's fired! He's fired!'"
The Seahawks are directly involved in this because defense end Michael Bennett is one of the most prominent NFL player currently sitting during the anthem, alongside former Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch, now with the Oakland Raiders, since quarterback Colin Kaepernick began the movement last year and who is now unemployed. Bennett has stated that he plans to sit during the anthem for the entire season.
As of Saturday evening, no NFL owner has issued a statement supporting Donald Trump, but a handful have issued responses that make it clear they are disappointed with the President’s words and that they stand by their players. That included NFL commissioner Roger Goodell —
Roger Goodell statement on Donald Trump's comments. pic.twitter.com/8RNsOe8trr— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) September 23, 2017
and NFL players association union chiefs DeMaurice Smith —
We will never back down. We no longer can afford to stick to sports. pic.twitter.com/Ec3Bc4qt9h— DeMaurice Smith (@DeSmithNFLPA) September 23, 2017
And in an update after this story was originally published, Seattle Seahawks president Peter McLoughlin, with an accompanying tweet from Paul Allen, noted that the franchise will support the players fully:
A statement from Seahawks President Peter McLoughlin pic.twitter.com/vGzMj0TFmz— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) September 24, 2017
Pete Carroll also released statement: “I will stand with our players”
Earlier Saturday, Trump issued a response to Goodell via Twitter:
Roger Goodell of NFL just put out a statement trying to justify the total disrespect certain players show to our country.Tell them to stand!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
In calling any player who protests in this form a “son of bitch,” Kaepernick’s mother called herself a “proud bitch.”
Guess that makes me a proud bitch!— Teresa Kaepernick (@B4IleaveU) September 23, 2017
As of now, millions of fans await word from their own franchises, hoping for statements in response to Trump, regardless of which way they lean. At least
seven 14 have done that so far, but more could do so in the coming hours, while a few have flat out said they will not. There are also a handful of owners who donated money to Trump during his campaign, and it would be surprising if they spoke out against the president at this time. One such organization with no statement as of this writing is the Seahawks and Paul Allen, the richest owner in the league, which undoubtedly has put him in one of those tiny circles of longtime billionaires alongside Trump. Allen even sold Trump a private jet in 2010, the same one he still uses today.
If they are friendly, who knows. Allen donated to the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2008.
What we also don’t know, but could expect, is a wild day of pre-game activities on Sunday, September 24, 2017. The statements by Trump not only challenge players who were on the fence to make a decision in the face of someone telling them what to do, but challenge owners to reveal their beliefs on the most controversial NFL topic of the last 13 months. There have been instances of owners going public with their belief that players should stand during the national anthem (Mark Davis, Raiders) and then seen players on that team sit during the anthem (Lynch, Raiders) without punishment. That almost certainly would continue.
However, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has apparently threatened, in the past, to do what Trump called for this week, which is to kick a player off of the team for protesting. Would that hold true if his franchise quarterback, running back, wide receiver, or left tackle did so? Would Jones say, “You’re fired!”?
Again, you don’t even have to take this at value of politics, take it at value of football: What sort of fallout could we see in the NFL from the ongoing back and forth between the commissioner of the league, its owners, players and the President of the United States?
Owners and reps from the 49ers, Dolphins, Packers, Steelers, Falcons, Giants, and Titans have either stood against Trump’s statement or said that they support Goodell. (Added: Philadelphia Eagles. Buffalo Bills. New England Patriots. LA Chargers. Denver Broncos. Indianapolis Colts.) Owners from the Patriots, Rams, Jaguars, Texans, Washington, Jets, and Cowboys donated to Trump’s campaign. Jimmy Haslam, owner of the Cleveland Browns, donated a large sum to Trump’s inauguration.
Seattle defensive end Frank Clark tweeted that he would like Bennett to save him a seat on Monday, while receiver Doug Baldwin issued a statement on twitter; both can be found at the bottom of this page.
My guess is that for the most part, things go on as normal. If things become extremely unusual on Sunday, then that’s what will happen on Sunday, but will we still be talking about this in the same way in 2018? In December? How about by Wednesday?
The following is statements issued by owners/franchise representatives so far, and the current stance/non-stance of those who haven’t said anything, including Allen.
Owner Responses Against Trump
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a noted friend of Trump, releasing a statement early Sunday morning:
Patriots chairman Robert Kraft: pic.twitter.com/Ign7Eb1Uq0— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 24, 2017
Denver Broncos’ Joe Ellis:
LA Chargers’ Dean Spanos:
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay:
San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York:
Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross:
Statement from Miami Dolphins Owner and Founder of Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) Stephen Ross. pic.twitter.com/6W3mXwJO6M— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) September 23, 2017
Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy:
Packers president Mark Murphy weighs in: pic.twitter.com/e8oOJe21Sj— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 23, 2017
Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank:
Statement from Arthur Blank: pic.twitter.com/20DH3DHc4e— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) September 23, 2017
New York Giants owners John Mara and Steve Tisch:
Giants issue statement on Trump calling NFL players who peacefully protest racism "sons of bitches"/asking owners to "fire" them: pic.twitter.com/Qr5eMSfpKG— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) September 23, 2017
Tennessee Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk:
Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney’s short statement:
Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie:
Buffalo Bills owners Kim and Terry Pegula:
Statement from Bills Owners Terry and Kim Pegula: pic.twitter.com/0AV6GIKUx0— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 24, 2017
Owners who donated to Donald Trump’s campaign:
Jerry Jones (Cowboys), Robert Kraft (Patriots, first owner who donated to Trump to respond), Stan Kroenke (Rams), Bob McNair (Texans), Shahid Kahn (Jaguars, locked arms with players on Sunday morning), Dan Snyder (Washington), Woody Johnson (Jets)
(1) NFL owners Jones, Kraft, Kroenke, McNair, Kahn, Snyder, Johnson gave a $mil bucks each to 45s inauguration.Will they speak out against— shannon sharpe (@ShannonSharpe) September 23, 2017
No response yet:
Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens,
Buffalo Bills , Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns (owner Jimmy Haslam made donations to Trump inauguration), Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs (owner Clark Hunt has said that it is ‘right’ for players to stand during anthem, but also this summer said he’d have no problem signing Kaepernick if it helped the team win), LA Chargers, Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles (Lurie has said that the players protesting are not being “respectful” and seems deeply against it), Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jerry Jones may have specifically threatened players who would sit or kneel during anthem:
Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson won’t issue:
A Panthers spokesman tells me team owner Jerry Richardson will not issue a statement in response to Trump's comments last night.— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) September 23, 2017
Chicago Bears won’t issue:
Bears choosing not to comment on Pres. Trump's criticisms of NFL players demonstrating. Bears deferring to Commissioner Goodell's stmt.— Dan Wiederer (@danwiederer) September 23, 2017
Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis has no statement, but does believe players should stand during anthem.
Washington won’t be doing anything at this time:
Giants, Packers and 49ers among teams to issue statements in response to Trump. Redskins have no statement at this time, spokesman says.— Mike Jones (@MikeJonesWaPo) September 23, 2017
Other Seahawks statements
Frank Clark hints at sitting with Michael Bennett during anthem:
Doug Baldwin issues statement:
The behavior of the President is unacceptable and needs to be addressed. If you do not Condemn this divisive Rhetoric you are Condoning it!!— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) September 23, 2017
Germain Ifedi retweeted an anti-Trump statement tweet.
My mom is a beautiful lady she has never been a bitch— Michael Bennett (@mosesbread72) September 23, 2017
Justin Britt supports Bennett
Amen. My mother is amazing. https://t.co/DBr3hX4FH0— Justin Britt (@JustinBritt68) September 23, 2017
Mass kneeling, locking arms in Jaguars-Ravens on Sunday morning:
Here are the Jaguars and Ravens sidelines during the national anthem.— SB Nation (@SBNation) September 24, 2017
They stood during "God Save the Queen." pic.twitter.com/QwhmYez5XM
This post will be updated as necessary. Please add relevant statements, tweets, news in the comments section and remember to be respectful to one another and to not create the divisive mess of a conversation that moments like this can often lead to.