The NFL preseason kicked off in earnest Thursday night with a slate of 12 exhibition games. The reigning Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles (who did not visit the White House, by the way) and the Miami Dolphins were among the teams playing. I mention those two specific teams because both have some of the more outspoken players in the league. Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins is perhaps the most vocal on the team, but there is also Chris Long, and the newly acquired Michael Bennett alongside him. And Kenny Stills down in Miami has been just as outspoken in support of both Colin Kaepernick and generally not being a terrible human being.
Before kickoff, Jenkins and teammate De’Vante Bausby stood with their fists raised during the national anthem. Long placed his arm on Jenkins's shoulder. Bennett walked out of the locker room and to the bench during the anthem. Stills and teammate Albert Wilson kneeled. Dolphins defensive end Robert Quinn also raised his fist. Other players around the league either went into, or stayed in, the locker room during the song which, if you'll recall, was the NFL's preferred solution back when it shit its pants after President Trump's initial idiotic ranting.
And, naturally, all hopped up on Diet Coke and cable news, the president learned about the protests this morning and decided to tweet through it.
Now, there is next to no chance that Donald Trump actually tweeted these tweets. It appears nonsensical—a Trump staple—but it actually has a point, albeit wrong. This is in all likelihood a Dan Scavino tweet, mimicking the president's inartful cadence. Even so, if he could find one, it surely sent a shiver down Roger Goodell's spine.
- Two players knelt.
- To protest and bring awareness to institutionalized racism, police brutality, and in Kaepernick's words "systemic oppression."
- Those things are in fact bad.
- You do not capitalize "national anthem."
- The players have defined their outrage quite clearly, going on two years now. You should try listening.
- You are allowed to protest wherever you like.
- You are allowed to be both rich and aggrieved at the same time, as I'm sure you know.
- Most of that money does not go to the players. They get just shy of 50 percent of league revenues and, guess what? There are a whole lot more players than there are owners.
- You are a disease!
Now, if the league had any sense, it would read Trump's tweets, understand that they are the dipshit ravings of a guy who is scared of stairs, and quietly move on. He's trying to rile up a very specific and very racist group of people who fucking live to be pissed off about everything but what they should actually be pissed off about. They also live for being full of shit and if they say they're going to boycott the NFL, they either never watch in the first place, or are lying (or their team stinks, so they're OK skipping a few games—hello, Ohio!).
So please, NFL, do not respond to this. Do not create some new hamfisted anthem rule. Do not let this slob bully you. You are the NFL—the NF-Fucking-L! You are the Alpha Male of sports. Don't get cucked by an empty suit. I promise you, if you jabbed your index finger into this guy's chest he would crumble to the ground. But don't do that either. Just send him a nice note—or maybe go on a cable news show to make sure he gets it—and deliver a short message: "Thanks for watching."
This article originally appeared on VICE Sports US.