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Pence Leaves Colts Game Over Anthem Protest In Obviously Pre-Planned Stunt

Mike Pence Anthem

Vice-President Mike Pence walked out of a game at Lucas Oil Stadium between the Indianapolis Colts and the San Francisco 49ers in what was clearly a pre-planned political stunt:

WASHINGTON — President Trump reignited his feud with the N.F.L. on Sunday by telling Vice President Mike Pence to walk out of a game in his home state of Indiana after nearly two dozen players from the visiting San Francisco 49ers knelt during the playing of the national anthem.

Mr. Pence lavishly documented his early departure in a series of tweets and an official statement issued by his office. On Twitter, he declared, “I left today’s Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.”

While the vice president portrayed his decision as a gesture of patriotic principle, it had the distinct appearance of a well-planned, if costly, political stunt. He doubled back from a trip to the West Coast to take a seat in the stands in Indianapolis, where the 49ers — the team most associated with the N.F.L. protest movement against racial injustice — were suiting up to play the Colts.

Shortly after Mr. Pence issued his statement, Mr. Trump said on Twitter, “I asked @VP Pence to leave stadium if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country. I am proud of him and @SecondLady Karen.”

For Mr. Trump, the vice president’s walkout keeps alive a dispute that has proved popular with his political base, even if he has drawn criticism from the N.F.L. and some of its owners for being divisive and politicizing professional sports. On Sunday, a spokesman for the N.F.L., Joe Lockhart, declined to comment on Mr. Pence’s statement.

While politicians from both parties concoct situations for political gain, some criticized Mr. Pence’s walkout as transparently premeditated. The vice president did not take a pool reporter traveling with him into the stadium; a member of Mr. Pence’s staff told the reporter, Vaughn Hillyard, that the vice president might be leaving the game early.

“Manipulation of faux patriotism took new turn today with VP Pence. Preplanned early exit from Colts game after 49ers kneeled, then tweets,” Norman Ornstein, a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, wrote on Twitter.

Others pointed out the expense involved: Mr. Pence flew to Indianapolis from Las Vegas, where he had attended a memorial service for victims of last Sunday’s mass shooting, and was immediately flying back to Los Angeles.

“After all the scandals involving unnecessarily expensive travel by cabinet secretaries, how much taxpayer money was wasted on this stunt?” Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, said in a tweet.

There was little doubt, given the presence of the 49ers, that Mr. Pence would be given an opportunity to make his political statement. The former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began the dispute over the national anthem last year by taking a knee to highlight the plight of black Americans, particularly the killing of black men by police officers.

Mr. Kaepernick left the 49ers in March and has not been signed by any other team — a situation seen by many as a blacklisting by other team owners. But other 49ers have continued the protest in a show of solidarity with their former teammate.

Last month, Mr. Trump seized on the dispute over Mr. Kaepernick, declaring at a rally in Alabama that any “son of a bitch” who refused to stand for the anthem should be “fired.” His comments led hundreds of players to protest during the anthem, though last weekend the furor appeared to be subsiding a bit.

The White House seemed determined to whip it up again. In addition to Mr. Pence’s statement and tweets, the press office released a photo of Mr. Pence in a suit, standing with his hand over his heart for the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. He was standing next to Maj. Gen. Courtney P. Carr, a veteran of the Iraq war who now serves as adjutant general of the Indiana National Guard.

An earlier tweet by the vice president, in which he said that he and his wife, Karen Pence, were looking forward to the game, showed him wearing a Colts cap and casual clothing. He said he was there to honor Peyton Manning, the longtime Colts quarterback whose statue was unveiled in Indianapolis this weekend, and who was set to have his number retired into the team’s ring of honor at halftime.

The vice president’s office later said that the photo had actually been taken in 2014, when Mr. Pence was governor of Indiana.

In the West Wing, officials privately said they believed that Mr. Pence had sought the controversy, which is a favorite of the president’s and which he had voiced his approval of. It came less than two weeks after Mr. Pence’s chief of staff, Nick Ayers, told a group of Republican donors that there might need to be a “purge” of the party if people did not get behind the president.

Here are the relevant Tweets from the Vice-President and from President Trump:

NBC News reporter Peter Alexander, who was among the pool reporters assigned to the Vice-President yesterday, meanwhile, reported that the pool was told prior to the game to wait in the press van because there might be an “early departure”:

In other words, as much as Pence tried to claim in his tweets that his decision to leave the game early was a spontaneous act, it seems fairly clear that this was a pre-planned political stunt that was choreographed in advance. This is evidence not only by President Trump’s own tweets, but by the reports from the press pool that they had been told in advance that Pence would likely be leaving early, and the fact that Pence’s ostensible reason for attending the game at all, to watch the halftime ceremony at which Peyton Manning’s jersey would be retired. had not even occurred yet. What’s particularly galling about the whole affair, of course, is the fact that Pence made this trip from Nevada, where he had been visiting first responders and victims of last week’s shooting, and flew to Indianapolis for the game only to turn around before the game had even started, for the explicit purpose of stirring the political pot and waving the bloody shirt of hyper-patriotism just a Trump has been doing since that speech in Alabama, and then flew back West to California where he was scheduled to speak at a fundraiser later in the evening. According to early estimates, this entire spectacle cost taxpayers as much as $100,000, but as Philip Bump notes, it’s the planning:

A lot of emphasis has been placed on the cost of the trip, for understandable reasons. CNN figured that the flight alone cost about $200,000 on net — $242,500 in flying time from Las Vegas (where Pence was holding an event in the wake of the massacre there last week) and back to Los Angeles (where he had a political event scheduled). An Air Force Two flight from Vegas to L.A. alone would have cost about $45,000, so: about $200,000.

A spokesman for the vice president told The Washington Post in a statement that this was actually a cost savings, because Pence would otherwise have flown to D.C. for the night instead of Indianapolis. “Instead,” the statement read, “he made a shorter trip to Indiana for a game that was on his schedule for several weeks.”

But CNN’s analysis excludes a lot of other costs, of course. As the Indianapolis Star reported, Pence’s appearance introduced another level of security for fans attending the game, prompting the Colts to encourage people to show up early to navigate that security. That extra security cost extra money — as did Pence’s travel from the airport to the stadium and back.

There’s a ripple through a city whenever a president or vice president visits: street closures, added security, added nuisances. The full costs of those visits are probably incalculable, because they have effects beyond the places directly affected. In this case, it’s worth remembering that the ripple was for the purpose of allowing Pence to spend less than an hour at the stadium so he could spend 30 minutes bragging about his principled stand on social media.

(…)

The time of the president and vice president are valuable, and what they do and where they go reflect the things that are important to them. You can always scrounge up more money; you can’t create more time. And Trump’s visit to Puerto Rico last week lasted only a few more hours than Pence’s trip to Indianapolis. Of the 520-odd cumulative days that Trump and Pence have been in power, one was spent traveling to Puerto Rico and one was spent going to Indianapolis. Time is spent in other ways, too: As we’ve noted before, the president has spent a lot more of his time tweeting about the NFL than he has the devastation of Hurricane Maria.

Pence’s flight to Indianapolis was planned for weeks; his social-media response ready to go with a graphic immediately after he left the stadium. It’s an impressive level of preparation for an administration, as it turns out, focused on goading the president’s base into anger at black athletes.

The trip wasn’t free, and the idea that it was a cost savings is ridiculous. But the really galling aspect of Pence’s jaunt was that it demonstrated the sort of issue on which the administration is deliberate about having its act together.

And it’s significant that the one area where this White House has its act together is one where Trump can accomplish his twin goals of inflaming his base and dividing and polarizing the American public.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. reid says:

    The depths of this administration are apparently limitless, and they barely pay any price. Just imagine if Obama had done even 1% of what these clowns do?

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  2. James in Bremerton says:

    This kiddie stunt cost $240,000. Most elected politicians were raised in the previous millennium and still don’t understand we’re all going to know about it 3.5 seconds later. Their addictions to VHS, carbon paper, and polaroids are killing the U.S.

    Of course, knowing and voting aren’t the same thing, as happened to Democrats in 2010, 2014, and particularly 2016. With 2018 being a midterm election, history is on the side of Democrats continuing to talk big while staying home.

    You have to fight for the change you want. Every day. Only activism will do, really. Luckily, social media is helping with that. And none of it means anything when Democrats refuse to show up and vote.

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  3. Mikey says:

    A taxpayer-funded quarter-million dollar boondoggle, solely to virtue signal in support of patriotic correctness.

    Hard to get more GOP than that these days.

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  4. Stormy Dragon says:

    Here’s video of Pence’s Secret Service detail the moment they realized the flag was about to be disrespected.

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  5. KM says:

    Pence needs to reimburse the American public for this little stunt. Go and protest all you want but not on my dime. What’s more – this is a government Trump -sanctioned ethics violation and should be treated with all the seriousness it deserves. If he was really directed to so by the sitting President, then that is the two highest government officials in the land actively and deliberately interfering with how a private business is to cause a negative reaction. Undue influence and pressure from the Office of Presidency is a very serious accusation. This is the King and his Men’s letting the peasant’s know the Royal Warrant’s been revoked and they are out of favor.

    Say what you will about the NFL protesters but they aren’t willingly wasting anyone’s tax money on their protests. Pence owes us money. If this protest really meant something to him, he’d have paid for it out of pocket to prove the point and not burden the nation with his patriotism.

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  6. t says:

    these guys are the dumbest criminals ever.

    they make the wet bandits look like rhodes scholars.

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  7. Franklin says:

    @Stormy Dragon: LOL!

    You should post that as a comment on that video.

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  8. gVOR08 says:

    And it’s significant that the one area where this White House has its act together is one where Trump can accomplish his twin goals of inflaming his base and dividing and polarizing the American public.

    That.

    Is there any issue, no matter how trivial, Republicans won’t seize on to divide the country?

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  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Here’s video of Pence’s Secret Service detail the moment they realized the flag was about to be disrespected respected in an unapproved fashion.

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  10. Stormy Dragon says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    If you’d looked at the clip, you’d realize I was being sarcastic about the flag being disrespected.

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  11. Argon says:

    A quarter million $$$ wasted.

    Then again, we waste more each time the POTUS goes on a golf vacation.

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  12. Jen says:

    The running tally of money wasted by this administration is really eye opening. From the amount of unnecessary air travel (or private/charter when commercial would have worked), to the amounts paid to have the secret service rent golf carts while Trump is golfing, to now this ridiculous (and failed) PR stunt…these are the “fiscal conservatives”??

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  13. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Once again it is worth reminding everyone that the NFL players are protesting racial injustice, and Trump and Pence et al are doing everything they can to suppress that protest. This really has nothing to do with flags or anthems; never has.
    But I will this; if you think people should be required to pledge allegiance…you should just move to N. Korea.

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  14. Tyrell says:

    @t: Pence should start attending NASCAR races. No anthem protests there.
    Petty – still the king

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  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I know you were, I just hate to cede the ground of how one respects the flag. No poke at you.

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  16. Mikey says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    Once again it is worth reminding everyone that the NFL players are protesting racial injustice, and Trump and Pence et al are doing everything they can to suppress that protest.

    Something I’ve seen in several variations around the ‘net:

    “It’s telling that when people of color are protesting racism, they are accused of protesting America.”

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  17. Jen says:

    Alexandra Petri’s stuff at WaPo isn’t always my cup of tea, but I think she has this list down pat:

    Some other protests Mike Pence has planned

    My favorite: “Run into and out of an American Eagle Outfitters in indignation that the store offers no appropriate outfits for eagles.”

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  18. Tyrell says:

    Pence might have left early so he could see the Packers beat the Cowboys.
    See Cowboy’s owner Jerry Jones’ comments on these protests and his policy. Jones puts up with no nonsense from his players.

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  19. gVOR08 says:

    @Tyrell:

    Jones puts up with no nonsense from his players.

    But the players are apparently expected to put up with a lot of nonsense from Jones.

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  20. Matt says:

    @Tyrell: Jones is a piece of shit who has no problem sucking at the government’s teat and then leaving early when some place else offers more welfare.

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  21. Just 'nutha' ig'nint cracker says:

    @Mikey:

    “It’s telling that when people of color are protesting racism, they are accused of protesting America.”

    Meh… not so much from what I can see. Just SOP on the Right.

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  22. Just 'nutha' ig'nint cracker says:

    Take a look at Mrs. Pence. Is that a woman who’s thinking ” eh…a few more minutes and this’ll be over” or what? I wonder if she realized that she would be part of the supporting cast for this many Kabuki Theater productions?

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  23. MBunge says:

    I think we have officially lost the plot on this thing.

    The whole point of protests is to draw attention. They basically have no other practical purpose. The attention that Trump and Pence are giving the anthem kneelers is exactly what the whole exercise is supposed to accomplish. Then you take that attention and use it to get your message out.

    So why all the complaints?

    Mike

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  24. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MBunge:

    Then you take that attention and use it to get your message out.

    Just in case you haven’t noticed, we’ve noticed that’s exactly what you are complaining about.

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  25. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Jen:

    The running tally of money wasted by this administration is really eye opening.

    The tally so far: Trump took off for his 69th golf trip !!!

    Doing the math, according to this link, he has spent 25% of his presidency on a golf course.

    https://shareblue.com/trump-makes-69th-trip-to-a-golf-course-while-san-juans-mayor-pleads-for-clean-drinking-water/

    Remember when he criticized Obama for Golfing and said he would NEVER do so in a crisis?

    Good times…. Back where we had a real administration in D.C.

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  26. Hal_10000 says:

    Poor, poor, Mike Pence. He thought he was going to be the most Veep in history. And now he’s in cage while Trump throws nickels at him and cries, “Dance, little monkey, dance!”

    Don’t underestimate how this will play with Trump’s base though. Twitter is not the country. This stunt may cross a lot of people we hear from as ridiculous but the NFL protest rub a LOT of people the wrong way.

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  27. Tyrell says:

    @Matt: One thing for sure – it will be a cold day in Dallas before they see another Lombardi Trophy.

    ReplyReply

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  28. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Tyrell: So protesting racial violence is “nonsense,” but engaging is domestic abuse is… business as usual?

    ReplyReply

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  29. Scott O says:

    “I left today’s Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.”

    How does this “event” in any way disrespect soldiers? What about the 50,000 people that didn’t leave with Mr. Pence, are they now all bad Americans?

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  30. Guarneri says:

    Hey! How about all the coverage of Harvey Weinstein at OTB! And how about Hillary and Barack going to the mat criticizing him to protect the honor and dignity of women?! Oh, wait……..that’s right.

    Oh, well. Better to write snarky pieces about VPs and football games.

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  31. Guarneri says:

    @MBunge:

    Stating the obvious for 100. Sympathizing with overpaid, mutant brats, these people complain when showed to be fools by a politicians. Who is Mike Pence.

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  32. Mister Bluster says:

    All you Red faced, White as a sheet and Blue Balled Bastards who want to live in a country where the government forces it’s citizens to stand for the national anthem should move to North Korea!
    You will fit right in!
    We won’t miss you!

    (I’ll bet Kim Jong Un will let Bungels and Goonari sit up in the reviewing stand for the next parade!)

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  33. Gustopher says:

    Will the Trump/Pence campaign be reimbursing taxpayers for this publicity stunt?

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  34. Gustopher says:

    @Guarneri: It might surprise you to learn that Harvey Weinstein is even less important than the Vice President.

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  35. CET says:

    I can’t see this working out for Trump.

    American voters might be short-sighted, willfully ignorant, and gullible, but this country loves its sports and its athletes. If I were an incompetent and divisive politician, I wouldn’t be asking voters to choose between me and the NFL….

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  36. KM says:

    @CET:

    That’s just it: he’s gambling they love the *sport*, not necessarily the NFL.

    How many Trumptards scream about the NFL and then go watch college or high school football games… incidentally a place where those in power have greater control over the players? Schools are now talking about suspending student players for taking a knee or punishing them in other ways because students don’t have the same methods to express their 1st Amend rights as adults do. It pleases the authoritarian in them to “put children in their place” for daring to have an opinion that differs from theirs and ruins their fav pastime. Trump’s gambling his personal hatred of the NFL will infect the country and they’ll just get their football fix somewhere else.

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  37. Tony W says:

    @Gustopher: Further, those on the left – notably/recently Meryl Streep, publically called out Weinstein for his douchebaggery. That’s what liberals do when one of our own behaves like a jackass – we hold them accountable.

    Compare/contrast that to the political right. What was the alt-right response to “grab-em-by-the-pu$$y”?

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  38. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @MBunge:

    So why all the complaints?

    1). Comb-over Donnie is perverting the meaning of the protest by trying to make it about the flag or the anthem when that is categorically NOT what it is about.
    2). In doing so he is expressly supporting racial injustice.
    2). In doing so he is overtly trying to abridge the freedom of expression of Amercian citizens.
    3). In doing so he refusing the meaning of the flag to that of an empty symbol. The flag is nothing but a construction of fibers. What it symbolizes is the freedoms that make America. One of those is the freedom of expression. Without which the flag means bubkis.

    Notes:
    1). The supreme court has ruled (West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette) that school children cannot be forced to pledge allegiance to the flag. (So why NFL players, Bunge?)
    2). Even Justice Scalia, a man that did more damage to this Republic than almost anyone else, understood the above:

    “If I were king, I would not allow people to go around burning the American flag. However, we have a First Amendment, which says that the right of free speech shall not be abridged — and it is addressed in particular to speech critical of the government. That was the main kind of speech that tyrants would seek to suppress.”

    Tell me Bunge…why do you want to make Trump a King? Does his arse taste that good to you???

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  39. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    Tell me Bunge…why do you want to make Trump a King?

    Allow me to re-phrase:
    Tell me Bunge…when there is very little disagreement among high-level Republicans that this moron is dangerously unfit for the presidency…why is it that you are so willing to make him your King?

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  40. Mikey says:

    @Guarneri: You really want to bring up Weinstein when you helped put someone who’s done the same shit into the Oval Office?

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  41. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Guarneri:
    While you are waiting for an answer, watch this:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3dLIRHZO3Y

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  42. KM says:

    @MBunge:

    So why all the complaints?

    Trump’s now threatening the NFL’s supposed “massive tax breaks”. It’s getting pretty freaking clear he’s trying to use his political power to force private businesses to take action on his disagreement of their protests. This is coercion and attempts to silence harmless political free speech – something that should be chilling to anyone who believes in democracy. They’re not rioting or being violent; in fact, their chosen protest gesture is a traditional pose of respect. They are literally harming no one and the “disrespect” being claimed is from one’s perspective that the anthem / flag *must* be treated in a specific way that’s frankly relatively new in this country’s history (look up previous salutes and flag discipline).

    *THIS* is what the flag represents: fighting against those who would force obeisance to the government. We are Americans, we bow to no one we don’t choose to. Trump would do well to remember this sentiment is what’s emblazoned on the Gasden flag TEAbaggers love so much: Don’t Tread on Me.

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  43. Unsympathetic says:

    NFL players were not on the field during the anthem until the military paid millions to the NFL just seven years ago.. in an attempt to increase recruiting numbers. NFL players were completing their final pre-game strategy talks in the locker room… you know, doing their job.

    Players on the field during the anthem always was faked.. they’re just thinking about the game that’s moments away. There’s no evidence they ever were patriotic in the first place.

    I have seen nothing to conclude there has been a change..

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  44. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Tyrell:

    See Cowboy’s owner Jerry Jones’ comments on these protests and his policy. Jones puts up with no nonsense from his players.

    If my employer tried to force me to pledge allegiance…I would have his ass in court so fast.
    Tell us Tyrell…why are you so willing to surrender your Constitutional rights?

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  45. Franklin says:

    @MBunge: Did you miss the part where they wasted taxpayer money? I thought Republicans cared about that.

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  46. Ebenezer Arvigenius says:

    It’s kind of cute these poeple still think their presence “dignifies” anything.

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  47. al-Ameda says:

    @Tyrell:

    @t: Pence should start attending NASCAR races. No anthem protests there.
    Petty – still the king

    I wish Pence would retire and attend NASCAR races all day, every day.

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  48. al-Ameda says:

    @Guarneri:

    Hey! How about all the coverage of Harvey Weinstein at OTB! And how about Hillary and Barack going to the mat criticizing him to protect the honor and dignity of women?! Oh, wait……..that’s right.
    Oh, well. Better to write snarky pieces about VPs and football games.

    I too loved those wonderful pictures of Weinstein with: (1) Jared and Ivanka, and (2) Weinstein with his ‘spouse’ and Melania and Trump. Didn’t you?

    By the way, I believe that Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly were voted by ZeroHedge as their 2016 Friends of Women in Business Men of the Year.

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  49. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @KM:
    The NFL has already given up it’s tax-exempt status…in 2015.
    Another case of this guy having no fvcking idea about what he is talking about.
    He is unfit for office.

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  50. KM says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Yeah this Weinstein thing isn’t taking off like they want because Trump freely admits he knew him well. Weinstein has too many connections across the aisle for this to be the killer scandal cons are hoping for. He’s a D-bag in trouble for doing things their D-bag President bragged about as “locker room talk”. Kinda hard to get all righteous when it’s one of Trump’s buddies…..

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  51. CET says:

    @KM:

    Man, that’s a dumb gamble to make. Maybe I’m wrong (and I haven’t followed football in over a decade), but if HW Bush or Clinton had started a personal feud (especially over something this dumb) with Jerry Rice or Tyrell Owens or Randy Moss, I don’t think many fans would have backed the president over the guys on their fantasy football team.

    I’d be willing to be proved wrong by polling, but I have to think this is one of those things that plays well with the 30% of the voting population who believes in flat earth conspiracies, and is a total loss with the rest of the country….

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  52. Tyrell says:

    @al-Ameda: Southern 500, Darlington Reaceway – “the track too tough to tame”

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  53. the Q says:

    I think most everybody supports the player’s right to protest.

    I think most people just think its inappropriate to do it at the workplace.

    For all the millions the players are compensated, the field is still a place of doing business and they are employees.

    Most people WOULD get fired from their job if they were to put a big Trump or Hillary sticker on their public desk or window-front of a business at which they work. That the protests are coming at the workplace is, for a number of moderates, the issue, not disrespecting the flag or calling out injustice.

    And for the liberals who think this is a bad move for Trump, just remember the famous Dick Darman – Leslie Stahl exchange whereby Darman congratulated Stahl on her great evening news report on Reagan.

    Stahl, confused said, “but Dick, the report was very critical of the POTUS”.

    Yes Darman replied, “but the videos and pictures were brilliant, no one will remember your commentary.”

    Stahl, again confused, went back and looked at her report and it hit her like a ton of bricks.

    She realized all the video and pictures had Reagan standing in front of a hundred flags being saluted by members of the military color guard. She was critically commenting over the pictures showing flags, salutes, men in uniform. People paid attention to the pictures not her griping.

    Darman was a closet Levi Strauss, Baudrillard semiologist. Who knew?

    So it goes with these protests. Sorry folks, the flag wins EVERYTIME. The NFL is caving.

    PS, on 60 minutes one of Trump’s social media dooshbags recalled that whenever he put the word “infrastructure” in his ads, the voters in the upper midwest would perk up as that was an important issue for them. According to this guy, the Dems ignored this while Trump hammered that line of “rebuilding America’s infrastructure” over and over because it resonated in the heartland.

    Meanwhile HRC was inspiring millions with the “stronger together” nonsense.

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  54. CET says:

    @the Q:

    Most people WOULD get fired from their job if they were to put a big Trump or Hillary sticker on their public desk or window-front of a business at which they work. That the protests are coming at the workplace is, for a number of moderates, the issue, not disrespecting the flag or calling out injustice.

    I’m not sure I buy this explanation, for a couple of reasons:

    1) It would be unusual (to say the least) for the POTUS to weigh in on a workplace issue. If that’s what we’re treating this as, it seems to me that the matter is between the players, their coaches, and maybe (maybe) the venue, and that everyone else can ether accept it or not.

    2) This is not an endorsement of a particular political candidate – it’s not like the 49ers are taking the field in ‘Stronger Together’ T Jerseys or wearing Trump masks over their helmets or something.

    3) I can’t for the life of me figure out why people find this disruptive. There is no enforced requirement that people put their hand over their heart during the flag salute (not yet anyway…). Taking a knee is not generally considered a sign of flagrant disrespect,* and doing so quietly while the anthem is playing doesn’t in any way impede the playing of the anthem or anyone elses ability to salute the flag in whatever manner they prefer.

    *Free speech aside, this strikes me as a very polite form of protest. Given the amount of indignation from Trump, Breitbart readers, the mentally ill, etc. you’d think NFL players were dancing naked in the stadium, burning flags covered in excrement while shouting ‘Heil Satan!’

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  55. the Q says:

    CET, very good points, but at this point does anyone remember/care about the original objective and issues of Kaepernick’s protest?

    This has devolved into a symbolic, myth exercise in manipulating the emotions underpinning one’s world view.

    That Trump is bringing up the flag, the military, the cops etc has brilliantly muddled the debate.

    And now look, the might NFL is caving into the pressure.

    Trump is an insane lunatic but he is very good at manipulating symbols.

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  56. Mikey says:

    @CET: Conservatives slam liberals for being obsessed with political correctness, but conservatives are equally obsessed–if not even more so–with patriotic correctness.

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