New Orleans Saints’ safety Malcolm Jenkins, one of the more outspoken players in the NFL to advocate for kneeling during the national anthem, took aim at the president on Tuesday, arguing that Trump is choosing to “ignore” the true meaning behind the protests.
Jenkins said during an interview with CNN that Trump “understands” that athletes choosing to kneel during the national anthem aren’t disrespecting the flag in doing so.
“He understands the point [of the protest] at this point but he is choosing to ignore it,” Jenkins said, according to Newsweek.
Jenkins’ comments were in response to a tweet the president sent out early Tuesday morning where he said he would not be tuning into any games if he sees athletes kneel.
“Looking forward to live sports,” Trump wrote. “but any time I witness a player kneeling during the National Anthem, a sign of great disrespect for our Country and our Flag, the game is over for me!”
After much backlash, Brees apologized and directly addressed the president who criticized him for it, saying in an Instagram post that it’s “not an issue about the American flag. It never has been.”
Jenkins added that it’s important for athletes, in any sport, to use their platform to bring attention to social injustices.
“I think anybody who’s looking to use sports, especially this year, as an outlet to kind of get away from what’s happening right now in our country is probably gonna be sadly mistaken especially as we move towards the fall,” he said.
Trump’s remarks came after several MLB players, including San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler, took a knee or raised their fists during the national anthem before exhibition games on Monday.