President Trump showed an awkward sense of timing in denouncing Colin Kaepernick, the former Super Bowl quarterback who last season began kneeling during the national anthem to protest police injustice against minorities. He tweeted on Saturday:
Wouldn’t you love to see one of these N.F.L. owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired,’ ” he said at Friday’s rally.
His demand for Mr. Kaepernick’s silence came two days after The New York Times reported on another form of silence that comes with the privilege of dedicating your life, breaking your body and soul, to be in the N.F.L. Doctors, it said, had found a severe level of the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., in Aaron Hernandez, the 27-year-old former New England Patriot who committed suicide in April while imprisoned on a murder sentence. His brain showed the kind of damage usually seen in players in their 60s.
C.T.E.’s toll on players’ health – a recent survey found C.T.E. in the brains of 110 of 111 former N.F.L. players examined — was of no concern to Mr. Trump. At a political rally in Alabama on Friday, the president complained about referees penalizing teams for excessive violence. Demonstrating with his fists colliding, he referred to a “beautiful tackle” that earned a 15-yard penalty. “They’re ruining the game,” he said.
He dismissed a fear that has led thousands of parents to keep their children from playing football, as casually as he disregarded the fears of Mr. Kaepernick for the safety and dignity of young black and Hispanic men off the field.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these N.F.L. owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired,’ ” he said at Friday’s rally.
Mr. Kaepernick has essentially gotten that message already from the Trump-loving owners of N.F.L. teams, none of whom have even offered him a backup position despite a striking level of mediocrity among even many starting quarterbacks.
But the president was not just speaking to Mr. Kaepernick. His message was to anyone who would protest racial injustice or inequity. Shut up. Stop complaining. That’s his message of privilege.
Mr. Trump also took on Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors after Mr. Curry let it be known that he would probably skip his team’s visit to the White House to celebrate their N.B.A. championship. A miffed president used Twitter to disinvite Mr. Curry.
In reacting to this presidential snub, Cleveland’s head of state, King James, provided the best response to all this.
“U bum,” LeBron James of the Cavaliers told Mr. Trump on Twitter, “Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!”