‘High school coaches across America today who are punished for leading their players in prayer’: White House officials back President Trump in face-off with NFL players taking the knee during National Anthem

Sunday, September 24, 2017
By Paul Martin

By Nikki Schwab, U.S. Political Reporter
24 September 2017

President Trump’s Treasury secretary and director of legislative affairs backed their boss Sunday as the president continued to war with NFL players taking the knee during the national anthem.

‘I think the reality is that there are high school coaches across America today who are punished for leading their players in prayer. And, yet, when an NFL player takes a knee, somehow that player is presumed to be a martyr for a social cause,’ Marc Short, the White House director of legislative affairs, told NBC’s Chuck Todd.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, speaking to Jake Tapper on CNN, pointed out that the professional football league has ‘different types of rules’ for nearly everything, so why not this.

‘What the president is saying –and I think the owners should meet and they should vote on a rule – this is about respect for our military, this is about respect for our first responders, this is not about Republicans or Democrats,’ Mnuchin told Tapper.

‘Players have the right for free speech off the field,’ the Treasury secretary added.

Mnuchin said he didn’t understand why the NFL would bar a team from, say, decorating their helmets, yet not step in on this issue.

‘But now the NFL is saying people should be able to decide what they want to do and disrespect the United States flag,’ the treasury secretary scoffed.

Tapper interjected and said he was playing ‘devil’s advocate,’ pointing out the players don’t believe they’re dishonoring the American flag, but instead engaging in peaceful protest.

Last season, San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the Star Spangled Banner as a quiet way to protest racial inequality. This season Kaepernick wasn’t picked up to play for a team, though other players have taken up the banner.

On CNN, the State of the Union host noted to Mnuchin that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had sided with the players, calling the president’s comments ‘divisive,’ as had New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who’s a personal friend of Trump’s.

‘Why is this a fight that the president wants to have?’ the CNN newsman asked.

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