New York Jets chairman and acting owner Christopher Johnson said last week that he will pay any fines his players incur due to the NFL’s new policy forbidding players to kneel on the field during the national anthem – and Republican Rep. Pete King (NY) is not happy with Johnson’s decision.
In a tweet, King called Johnson’s move “disgraceful” and declared that it was “time to say goodbye” to the Jets.
“Disgraceful that @nyjets owner will pay fines for players who kneel for National Anthem,” King tweeted. “Encouraging a movement premised on lies vs. police. Would he support all player protests? Would he pay fines of players giving Nazi salutes or spew racism? It’s time to say goodbye to Jets!”
The NFL’s decision – which requires all players who take the field to “stand and show respect” for the national anthem but also allows for teams to remain in the locker room – has proven controversial, with many opposed to the move believing the organization simply caved to pressure by President Donald Trump.
Trump has repeated said on Twitter and in interviews that the NFL should not allow players to kneel or otherwise “disrespect” the nation’s anthem or flag.
The president took his criticism even further Wednesday, casually suggesting that players who kneel shouldn’t be playing football and perhaps “shouldn’t be in the country”.
After King's tweet sparked backlash, the New York congressman doubled down, saying he had not compared NFL protesters to Nazis.
King told the New York Daily News that he not only believes the NFL has the right to curb speech within its organization but also that the underlying premise of the police brutality protest is wrong:
"The statistics show that African-Americans are no more likely to be shot by police than whites," King said.
"And just because police shoot them doesn't mean it's wrong."
NYDN notes that while more white Americans are killed by police, when each demographic's percentage of the population is factored in, black people are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white people, as revealed by a 2016 Washington Post analysis.