No matter what challenges his administration faces, President Trump is keeping up his running commentary on the NFL — tweeting Tuesday about the league's TV ratings and suggesting it bar players from kneeling during the national anthem.
The NFL, for its part, was not all that eager to continue the back-and-forth with Trump. "He's exercising his freedom to speak," league spokesman Joe Lockhart said on a conference call with reporters, "and I'm exercising my freedom not to react."
Asked about the possibility of the NFL punishing players or league employees for actions during the pregame anthems, Lockhart said: "I will leave the hypotheticals and the speculation to others. I'm not going to go down that road."
Trump brought up the topic for the fifth day in a row, dating to a speech to a crowd of supporters in Alabama on Friday night, when he referred to an NFL player making a gesture during "The Star-Spangled Banner" as a "son of a bitch."
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted: "The NFL has all sorts of rules and regulations. The only way out for them is to set a rule that you can't kneel during our National Anthem!"
In another tweet he said: "Ratings for NFL football are way down except before game starts, when people tune in to see whether or not our country will be disrespected!"
The ratings for Monday's game were up 63% from the equivalent game a year ago, which went up against a presidential debate between Trump and Hillary Clinton. The ratings for Week 3 of the NFL season were 3% higher than the same week last season. But viewership for national telecasts of NFL games is down 11% this season compared with 2016 through three weeks, according to the Nielsen company.
Dolphins' Timmons is eligible to play
The Miami Dolphins lifted the suspension of linebacker Lawrence Timmons after one week, and he's eligible to play Sunday against the New Orleans Saints in London.
Timmons was suspended indefinitely after he went AWOL the day before the Dolphins' season-opening win against the Chargers at StubHub Center. The Dolphins filed a missing person report before making contact with the 11th-year veteran, who apparently was dealing with a personal matter.
Giants co-owner upset with Beckham
The New York Giants said they would internally handle Odell Beckham Jr.'s celebration Sunday after a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles. The wide receiver pretended to urinate like a dog after catching a fourth-quarter touchdown in the Giants' 27-24 loss. He was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.
"I do not want to get into a discussion about this, but I will say that I am very unhappy with Odell's behavior on Sunday and we intend to deal with it internally," Giants co-owner John Mara wrote in an email.