What Americans think of the NFL protests -- and Trump's response to them

Thursday, 12 October 2017, 04:39:10 PM. Professional football players have been kneeling during the pre-game playing of the national anthem.

WASHINGTON -- Majorities of U.S. voters both disapprove of National Football League players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality, and President Donald Trump's response to them, according to a poll released Wednesday.

The Quinnipiac University poll said 52 percent of voters disapproved of the players' actions, with 43 percent approving. While 62 percent of whites opposed the action, 79 percent of blacks were in favor of the protests.

At the same time, 58 percent of voters said Trump's comments were inappropriate. He had kicked off the controversy during a speech last month in Huntsville, Ala., where he called on NFL owners. "when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He's fired. He's fired.'"

Trump on offense against the NFL

Trump suggested Tuesday that the publicly financed stadiums for NFL teams no longer be eligible for funding by tax-exempt bonds. The league voluntarily gave up its tax-exempt status in April 2015, which it was entitled to after incorporating as a trade association.

"If this industry is going to use money from American taxpayers to build the very fields they play on, is it really too much to ask that they show respect for the American flag at the beginning of the game?" White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday that players should stand for the anthem and that league officials would meet with players to discuss the concerns that led to the protests.

"Like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the national anthem," Goodell said in a memo issued to all 32 teams. "We also care deeply about our players and respect their opinions and concerns about critical social issues. The controversy over the anthem is a barrier to having honest conversations and making real progress on the underlying issues."

Vice President Mike Pence walked out of an Indianapolis Colts football game on Sunday after members of the visiting San Francisco 49ers kneeled during the anthem. Trump later tweeted that he had asked Pence to leave "if any players kneeled, disrespecting our country."

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-12th Dist., and Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee asked the Secret Service Wednesday for the costs of Pence's travel to Indianapolis.

"Vice President Pence's actions clearly represent an elaborate, prearranged ploy to garner media attention," the lawmakers wrote. "The costs associated with the vice president traveling to Indianapolis and attending a large, public event are immense, and we are deeply concerned that the Trump administration finds it appropriate to expend taxpayer resources to play political games."

The poll of 1,482 voters was conducted Oct. 5-10 with a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Eagles players link arms during 'The Star-Spangled Banner'

Jonathan D. Salant may be reached at jsalant@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JDSalant or on Facebook. Find NJ.com Politics on Facebook.  

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Article What Americans think of the NFL protests -- and Trump's response to them compiled by www.nj.com