President Donald Trump has long been at odds with NFL players over protests during the national anthem, but on Friday expressed the desire to listen.
One of the main reasons some NFL players have been protesting is the topic of criminal justice reform, a topic that’s also very important to Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins. Earlier this week, when Jenkins used posters to illustrate his point that people hadn’t been listening, several of his statistics were based on the idea of criminal justice reform (see story).
Trump acknowledged this one reason for protests Friday morning.
“I am going to ask all of those people to recommend to me — because that’s what they’re protesting — people that they think were unfairly treated by the justice system,” Trump said. “And I understand that. And I’m going to ask them to recommend to me people that were unfairly treated — friends of theirs or people that they know about — and I’m going to take a look at those applications. And if I find, and my committee finds that they are unfairly treated, then we will pardon them or at least let them out (of prison).”
Before saying he’d listen to suggestions for folks to be pardoned, Trump again said those players weren’t “proud enough” to stand for the anthem. This comes just a few days after the Eagles’ White House visit, when Trump, in part, cited differing viewpoints on protests during the national anthem.
And he again Friday mentioned players shouldn’t be in the locker room during the anthem, a solution offered by the NFL’s new national anthem policy. This time, the president tried to offer a solution of his own.
Former Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes already has a name in mind. His brother, who is serving a 324-month sentence for a weed-relation offense.
On Friday, Trump also said he was looking into possibly pardoning late boxer Muhammad Ali, whose attorney pointed out that a pardon wasn’t needed.
Still, the sentiment was seemingly there and the president at least acknowledged a reason some NFL players have been protesting.
When asked if he’d invite players to the White House for a roundtable chat, the president said he doesn’t have to do that.
“You know, I don’t have to do that,” Trump said. “I’m not looking to grandstand. We’ve got enough grandstanders in this town.
“I’m just saying, for the leagues, if they have people — if the players, if the athletes have friends of theirs or people that they know about that have been unfairly treated by the system, let me know.”
Now, pardoning a few people is a drop in the bucket when we’re talking about criminal justice reform. The president also didn’t address systemic and racial oppression, another huge part of the players’ protests.
And folks who are in jail either wrongly or are serving too harsh of penalties don’t begin to complete the list of things players feel is wrong with the system. But it’s at least a nice gesture. It would be an even nicer gesture if the president follows through.