NFL Responds To Divider-In-Chief With Call For Unity (TWEETS/VIDEOS)

Donald Trump’s attempt to bully NFL owners into unloading players who kneel during the national anthem is failing, and failing bigly. Sunday’s games saw dozens of players kneel and link arms during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

And from the looks of it, they’re doing so with the full support of the league office. On Saturday afternoon, Commissioner Roger Goodell rushed out with a burning statement condemning Trump’s demand that owners cut any “sons of bitches” who take a knee as “divisive.” He also reminded Trump of the many times that the NFL and its players “create a sense of unity in our country and our culture.”

Trump’s response was typical–more rage-tweeting.

If Trump thought he could make Goodell back down, he was sadly mistaken. On Sunday morning, the NFL announced that it would double down on its call for unity by running an ad that demonstrates the power of football to bring people together. It will run on this week’s edition of “Sunday Night Football” on NBC.

The ad, entitled “Inside These Lines,” was previously commissioned for Super Bowl LI. Watch it here.

Forrest Whitaker narrates a simple message–when you’re in the NFL, you quickly realize “there’s more that unites us.” Once you see that, it’s easy to “bring out the best in each other.”

CNN’s Brian Stelter broke the story on Sunday’s edition of “Reliable Sources.” Watch here.

Stelter said that the NFL had opted to roll out this ad, which was previously created for Super Bowl LI, in order to respond to Trump without bringing up his name.

Veteran sportswriter Christine Brennan said that this made perfect sense, since the NFL is one of the few institutions with “more of a megaphone” than the Donald. She believes the NFL is using that megaphone to step into the intersection of sports and culture “as a peacemaker of some sort.”

An NFL spokesman told CNN that the league office decided to give the ad a second run early on Sunday morning. He described it as “a stark contrast to some who practice the politics of division.”

The reaction from Trump diehards was predictable. When the NFL posted this ad on its official Facebook page, heads exploded.

“I love football. I love my country more. I will not watch any team that kneels during the anthem. The NFL is not as important to me as my country and my flag.”
“This is a joke. In this country we stand for the flag and kneel for the fallen. Not for a washed up wanna be who felt oppressed in his multi million dollar house.”
“Boycotting the NFL and products sold by advertisers! The players don’t represent Americans. Highly paid entertainers who disrespect their fans!”
“Live united? Seriously? You have the nerve to put this up while allowing the disrespecting our nation and military and police and president? This is the opposite of uniting and is a disgrace.”

Chances are that these commenters, and others, would be singing a different tune if they knew Trump used harsher language for players taking part in a peaceful protest than he did for racists and Nazis who were actively spoiling for violence, murdered an innocent woman, trashed her online, planned to crash her funeral, and bombarded her mother with death threats.

If anything, these comments prove why the NFL made the right call in giving this ad another run. After all, the man who should be uniting the country isn’t willing to do so, and indeed seems to be actively trying to divide it. Somebody has to step into the void.

(featured image courtesy Marine Corps New York, part of public domain)

Darrell is a 30-something graduate of the University of North Carolina who considers himself a journalist of the old school. An attempt to turn him into a member of the religious right in college only succeeded in turning him into the religious right's worst nightmare--a charismatic Christian who is an unapologetic liberal. His desire to stand up for those who have been scared into silence only increased when he survived an abusive three-year marriage. You may know him on Daily Kos as Christian Dem in NC. Follow him on Twitter @DarrellLucus or connect with him on Facebook. Click here to buy Darrell a Mello Yello.