After Donald Trump said NFL players should be fired for kneeling during the national anthem, NFL players, owners and coaches condemned Trump’s comments.
USA TODAY Sports
LANDOVER, Md. – Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman unleashed a pointed and emotional response to President Trump’s comments attacking NFL players who choose not to stand during the pregame playing of the national anthem.
“What president?” Norman said late Sunday night by his locker after the team beat the Oakland Raiders 27-10. “Not my president. He was chosen, true. But when a president acts like that, what do you say to that? That’s not someone that stands with dignity, pride, respect, honor. Where’s the honor in that? Where’s the dignity in that? Where is anything that’s prideful in doing what you did?
“Words are powerful. They can either unite you, or they can divide you. So what he said united us.”
Washington’s players locked arms during the national anthem Sunday night, capping a day of protests that swept through the entire NFL. Owner Daniel Snyder, who donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee and $100,000 to his current campaign, and team president Bruce Allen joined the players on the field. Norman stood directly to Snyder’s right and locked arms with him during the show of unity.
A few of Washington’s players kneeled, including receiver Jamison Crowder and tight ends Jordan Reed and Niles Paul.
Players have been protesting during the anthem to generate awareness to various social injustices in minority communities, a movement that started last season with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who remains unemployed.
Over the course of three days, Trump repeatedly called for players who protested to be fired or suspended.
“When a man calls you out like that, behind the (office of the) POTUS, and he’s supposed to be the President of America – he’s supposed to be – calls you out like that, in a group, and there’s more going on in the world, that’s frustrating,” Norman said. “That’s coming from you. I’m all cool. You give people the benefit of the doubt, but he’s coming in that direction, directly at you, nah, man. One brother, you mess with one, you mess with all. Nobody’s divided in this. We was in unity. We wanted to stand for something.
“I’m telling you right now, this man is not welcome in Washington, D.C. He’s not. I hope he won’t be around when I see him. He’s not welcome. I can say that to your face. He’s not welcome.”
At a rally on Friday in Alabama, Trump said, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b—- off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!”
“I couldn’t stop thinking about it since he said it,” Norman added. “And that was a big game we played. The game came secondary for me, to be honest with you. This came first and foremost. I could not stand to the side and watch such a thing happening.”
Norman spoke to reporters for nearly half an hour after media was allowed into the team’s locker room. All players had left, and a team public relations staffer even told Norman well into his interview session that he was free to leave.
Norman declined and continued to answer questions, saying this was “dear to him.”
“That’s disrespectful,” Norman added of Trump’s remarks. “That’s appalling. When you call a man an S.O.B., how you call somebody that? That’s not your right to do. Understand that.”
Throughout the session, Norman spoke with distinct emotion he punctuated his sentences with emphasis.
“That right there, oh my gosh,” Norman said. “That’s sad. It’s sad to be an American nowadays, when you sit up here and listen to that.”
Norman and the rest of his defensive teammates had their best game of the season, shutting down a Raiders offense that came into Week 3 leading the league in scoring. He finished the game with two tackles and helped hold receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree to two combined catches for 13 yards.
Though it was a dominant and signature victory, Norman clearly placed more significance on the response to Trump’s comments.
“I promise you, the next time there is voting or anything about it, we will be the first in line,” Norman said. “Because this right here, is not acceptable.”
Norman would not indicate if he and his teammates planned on continuing their show of unity or would protest in another way, but acknowledged that he would continue to express himself when he felt necessary.
“We had to do something and the time was now,” Norman said. “If you can’t do something in the capital – it starts here. Fifty states, this is the capital of the free world. It starts with us and we had to do something about it. It’s not about the flag, man. We love it. We want to be here. This is our country. We were born here. We were bred here. This is what we’re about.
“Nobody is spitting on the flag or disrespecting it. We know you gave your life for it and our gratitude to your service is deeply endeared. Understand that. But if somebody comes on your front porch and takes a piss, as a man, what are you going to do? Sit there and watch him pee? Or are you going to step outside and be like, ‘Hey, what are you doing, sir? You’re on private property. You’ve got to get off, or we’ll make you get off.’ ”
Follow Lorenzo Reyes on Twitter @LorenzoGReyes.
PHOTOS: NFL players’ protests