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Trump says NFL should fire players who kneel during anthem

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Trump says NFL should fire players who kneel during anthem

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — President Donald Trump says National Football League owners should fire players who kneel during the national anthem. And he’s encouraging spectators to walk out in protest.

In an extended riff during a freewheeling rally speech in Alabama Friday night, Trump also bemoaned that football games have become less violent.

“They’re ruining the game,” he complained.

Several athletes, including NFL players, have refused to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner” to protest of the treatment of blacks by police.

Trump says those players are disrespecting the flag and deserve to lose their jobs.

“That’s a total disrespect of our heritage. That’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for,” he said, encouraging owners to act.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ’Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,” Trump said to loud applause.

Trump also predicted that any owner who went through with his encouragement would become “the most popular person in this country” — at least for a week.

Trump, who was in Alabama campaigning for Sen. Luther Strange, also blamed a decline in NFL ratings on the nation’s interest in “yours truly” as well as what he described as a decline in violence in the game.

He said players are being thrown out for aggressive tackles, and it’s “not the same game.”

The NFL has made several efforts to reduce violence in the sport, particularly hits that may cause damage to the head. A July report on 202 former football players found evidence of a debilitating brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them. The league has agreed to pay $1 billion to retired players who claimed it misled them about the concussion dangers of playing football.

During his campaign, Trump often expressed nostalgia for the “old days” — claiming, for example, that protesters at his rallies would have been carried out on stretchers back then. He recently suggested police officers should be rougher with criminals and shouldn’t protect their heads when pushing them into quad cars.

It’s also not the first time he’s raised the kneeling issue. Earlier this year he took credit for the fact that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started the trend of kneeling during the anthem, hadn’t been signed by an NFL team.

Trump said the protest was the top reason NFL viewership had waned this season.

“You know what’s hurting the game more than that? When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they’re playing our great national anthem,” he said.

Trump encouraged his supporters to pick up and leave the stadium next time they spot a player failing to stand.

“I guarantee things will stop,” he said.

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Derrick Henry: Tom Brady the 'GOAT', but why wouldn't we want Ryan Tannehill back?

Derrick Henry: Tom Brady the 'GOAT', but why wouldn't we want Ryan Tannehill back?

If Tom Brady decides to leave the New England Patriots after winning six Super Bowl championships in 20 years with the franchise, one interesting free agent destination for him to consider is the Tennessee Titans.

The Titans beat the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Wild Card round this past season thanks in large part to the efforts of quarterback Ryan Tannehill and running back Derrick Henry. Henry, in particular, dominated the Patriots' highly rated defense with 182 rushing yards and a touchdown in the Titans' upset victory. Both of these players can become unrestricted free agents when the market opens in March, and even though Tannehill was great for the Titans in 2019, the idea of possibly acquiring a quarterback of Brady's caliber would be intriguing.

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Henry recently was asked on Barstool Sports' "Bussin' With The Boys" podcast about what he would think if Brady came to the Titans. The veteran running back had plenty of praise for the 42-year-old quarterback, but it's clear he's a fan of Tannehill's ability to help the Titans win going forward.

"I would think: Why isn't Ryan Tannehill good enough?" Henry said. "(Brady) still can play. Obviously, age doesn't matter for him, he's still playing at a high level, so my question would be, why isn't Ryan good enough, you know?"

Tannehill took over as the Titans' starting quarterback in Week 7 and helped the team earn a wild-card playoff berth with a 7-3 finish to the regular season. The Titans upset the Patriots and No. 1 seed Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs -- both on the road -- before falling to the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game.

Tannehill proved, for the first time in his career, that he's able to make winning plays in the postseason. The Titans would be wise to bring him back given how explosive their offense became after he was named the starter.

"Tom Brady is the GOAT," Henry reiterated later in the podcast. "That is no question at all. The best of all time. But then, at the same time, I mean, Ryan Tannehill is our quarterback, went to the AFC Championship. Why would we not want Ryan back? Just wanted to clear that up, Tom Brady is the GOAT."

Brady and Tannehill are among the best players in what's expected to be a loaded class of free agent quarterbacks, and where these two sign no doubt will have a profound impact on the balance of power in the AFC.  

Curran on Brady's future: Where we stand and what's next

How Drew Brees' return impacts Tom Brady, Patriots and NFL free agency

How Drew Brees' return impacts Tom Brady, Patriots and NFL free agency

The New Orleans Saints should feel confident at least one of their three quarterbacks will return for the 2020 NFL season.

Future Hall of Famer Drew Brees announced Tuesday on Instagram that he's coming back for what will be his 20th pro season. Brees didn't explicitly say he's returning to the Saints, but the language in his Instagram post makes it sound like New Orleans is the likely destination.

How does Brees' decision impact Tom Brady and the New England Patriots as free agency nears? Let's take a look.

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1. Will Teddy Bridgewater and/or Taysom Hill leave the Saints?
It's unreasonable to expect Brees, Bridgewater and Hill all to be back in New Orleans next season. The Saints, according to OvertheCap.com, have the sixth-lowest salary cap space in the league and we don't yet know what Brees' 2020 salary will be. 

Bridgewater went 5-0 and played quite well in Brees' absence in 2019. He deserves to be a starter somewhere, and according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, there could be a robust market for the young quarterback.

Hill has been used in a variety of roles for the Saints, including quarterback, running back and wide receiver. He's among the most versatile players in the league and should receive a nice raise from whichever team signs him this offseason. It should be noted Hill is a restricted free agent, so it's a little easier for the Saints to keep him. Bridgewater is an unrestricted free agent.

Brees and Hill coming back, with the latter having a larger role in the offense, probably is the best-case scenario for the Saints. They should again be among the top contenders in the NFC as long as Brees is healthy next season.

2. Teddy Bridgewater is an intriguing Tom Brady replacement
Bridgewater would be among the best options for the Patriots if Brady were to leave in free agency. Brady, after the spending the last 20 seasons with the Patriots, has the ability to be a UFA for the first time in his career in March.

Brady obviously would be the best quarterback available if he reached the open market, but he'll be 43 years old in August. Teams looking for a more long-term answer at quarterback now are likely to have another good option in Bridgewater, who's only 27 years old.

Bridgewater completed 67.9 percent of his passes for 1,384 yards with nine touchdowns and two interceptions in nine appearances for the Saints in 2019. Two of his wins as a starter came against quality opponents in the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys.

He has not been a full-time starter since 2015, one year before he suffered a major knee injury. That said, Bridgewater is still young and ranks among the most accurate quarterbacks in the league. The resiliency he's shown to bounce back from a horrific injury and become a starting-caliber quarterback again has been quite impressive.

3. Cross one name off the top free agent QBs list
The 2020 class of free agent quarterbacks is pretty strong, even if Brees returns to the Saints.

In addition to Brady and Bridgewater, other players who could be available include Jameis Winston, Ryan Tannehill, Marcus Mariota, Philip Rivers and Case Keenum. Teams looking to upgrade at quarterback in free agency should have plenty of options to consider once the market opens in March. 

4. NFL record books
Brady and Brees had a good duel in 2019 for the most regular season touchdown passes in league history, and with both quarterbacks set to play in 2020, that battle will resume in September. 


Click for the top free agent QBs in 2020