At Sunday's first game, in London,
Amid a series of tweets Saturday against criticism of the federal response to hurricane damage in Puerto Rico, the president returned to the world of sports and society: "Very important that NFL players STAND tomorrow, and always, for the playing of our National Anthem. Respect our Flag and our Country!"
Protesting during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” drew national attention last season when
During a speech at a political rally in Alabama on Sept. 22, Trump called for NFL owners to fire players who engaged in such a protest. In the days that followed the president issued a series of tweets reiterating his views and calling for a fan boycott of games.
Criticism from players, owners and fans — and some praise — greeted Trump's remarks.
The controversy boiled for days and seemed to overshadow other issues facing the Trump presidency, including the failure of Republicans to repeal and replace the nation's healthcare law; the Senate primary loss in Alabama of Trump's favored candidate; a turbulent hurricane season; and tensions over North Korea's missiles and nuclear weapons.
“I do really believe his heart's in the right place,” House Speaker
"I think what matters is that we have to show people that we are an inclusive society, that we want everyone to succeed," he said.
Ryan also acknowledged that the original point of the player demonstration — racial injustice and police mistreatment of African Americans — has become obscured by the narrower issue of how to act during the anthem.
"I think we should just have separate and distinct conversations. Because when you merge it into the flag and the anthem, it's lost," Ryan said.