President Donald Trump has repeatedly decried the practice of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem, saying that it was a form of disrespect for the American flag.
Some of his comments have drawn backlash and provoked responses from players. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said it was best to ignore criticisms like Trump’s.
“I think that the more that we give credence to stuff like that, the more it’s gonna live on,” he told NFL.com. “I think if we can learn to ignore or not respond to stuff like that — if we can — it takes away the power of statements like that.”
Rodgers also said it was “absolutely beautiful” that NBA star LeBron James hadn’t responded to Trump after the president attacked James’ intelligence:
Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 4, 2018
“Actually, I texted with a friend and I said this: ‘LeBron needs no help. He has stood on his own two feet for years, and he has done some incredible things, and he needs no support. He knows he has the support of his contemporaries, in his own sport and in other sports, and he’s gonna be fine,’” Rodgers added.
Rodgers seemed to argue that Trump and others mischaracterized what players did when they kneeled during the anthem:
“I don’t know how many times we can say, as a player and as a group, how much we love and support and appreciate the troops, and the opportunities this country allows us. But this is about equality and something bigger than ourselves, and bringing people together, and love and connectedness and equality and social justice, and putting a light on people who deserve to have the attention for their causes and their difficult situations that they’re in. You know, people have their opinion — you shouldn’t do it during the anthem, you shouldn’t do it during this — that’s fine. But let’s not take away from what the real issue is.”
While the NFL created and later suspended a rule allowing players to sit in the locker room during the anthem, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said his team’s policy would require players to stand during the anthem.
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott similarly said he didn’t think the protests were appropriate.
“I never protest during the anthem, and I don’t think that’s the time or venue to do so,” he said.