Donald Trump

President Donald Trump asks NFL players for pardon recommendations

usa-donald-trump.jpg
USA Today Images

President Donald Trump asks NFL players for pardon recommendations

President Donald Trump has long been at odds with NFL players over protests during the national anthem, but on Friday expressed the desire to listen. 

One of the main reasons some NFL players have been protesting is the topic of criminal justice reform, a topic that’s also very important to Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins. Earlier this week, when Jenkins used posters to illustrate his point that people hadn’t been listening, several of his statistics were based on the idea of criminal justice reform (see story).

Trump acknowledged this one reason for protests Friday morning. 

“I am going to ask all of those people to recommend to me — because that’s what they’re protesting — people that they think were unfairly treated by the justice system,” Trump said. “And I understand that. And I’m going to ask them to recommend to me people that were unfairly treated — friends of theirs or people that they know about — and I’m going to take a look at those applications. And if I find, and my committee finds that they are unfairly treated, then we will pardon them or at least let them out (of prison).”

Before saying he’d listen to suggestions for folks to be pardoned, Trump again said those players weren’t “proud enough” to stand for the anthem. This comes just a few days after the Eagles’ White House visit, when Trump, in part, cited differing viewpoints on protests during the national anthem. 

And he again Friday mentioned players shouldn’t be in the locker room during the anthem, a solution offered by the NFL’s new national anthem policy. This time, the president tried to offer a solution of his own. 

We’ll see if he follows through. 

Former Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes already has a name in mind. His brother, who is serving a 324-month sentence for a weed-relation offense. 

On Friday, Trump also said he was looking into possibly pardoning late boxer Muhammad Ali, whose attorney pointed out that a pardon wasn’t needed. 

Still, the sentiment was seemingly there and the president at least acknowledged a reason some NFL players have been protesting. 

When asked if he’d invite players to the White House for a roundtable chat, the president said he doesn’t have to do that. 

“You know, I don’t have to do that,” Trump said. “I’m not looking to grandstand.  We’ve got enough grandstanders in this town.

“I’m just saying, for the leagues, if they have people — if the players, if the athletes have friends of theirs or people that they know about that have been unfairly treated by the system, let me know.”

Now, pardoning a few people is a drop in the bucket when we’re talking about criminal justice reform. The president also didn’t address systemic and racial oppression, another huge part of the players’ protests. 

And folks who are in jail either wrongly or are serving too harsh of penalties don’t begin to complete the list of things players feel is wrong with the system. But it’s at least a nice gesture. It would be an even nicer gesture if the president follows through.

Report: Only a few Eagles players had planned to attend White House

Report: Only a few Eagles players had planned to attend White House

We’re finding out exactly what the White House meant when it said the Eagles were prepared to send “a tiny handful” of team representatives on Tuesday afternoon.

Eventually, the president canceled the event and instead held a “Celebration of America,” while the Eagles used the day to get in a lighter OTA practice.

But what constituted “a tiny handful” of representatives?

Well, according to a report by NFL Network, possibly just two players — one was Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles — were going to be on the South Lawn if the White House went through with the ceremony.

That report fits with Politico’s Annie Karni’s report earlier in the day. Karni was told by a White House official that two or three players, along with owner Jeff Lurie and Swoop — yeah, the mascot — would be the group in attendance.

Twenty minutes before President Donald Trump gathered some folks (they didn’t seem like Eagles fans) on the South Lawn, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said this was a “political stunt” by the Eagles.

The Eagles still have practice on Wednesday and Thursday this week; both sessions are open to reporters. Head coach Doug Pederson is scheduled to speak with reporters at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning.

Who were all those 'Eagles fans' at the White House today?

Who were all those 'Eagles fans' at the White House today?

After Donald Trump announced on Monday that the smaller Eagles delegation that was planning to visit him had been disinvited, the White House issued a statement on Tuesday morning stating that, "The vast majority of the Eagles team decided to abandon their fans."

What fans were those exactly?

President Trump's statement Monday said that 1,000 fans planned to attend the event prior to the cancelation and that they would instead be treated to a celebration of America. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday that "well over 1,000 of Eagles fans traveled and took time out of their schedules" to be there.

So where were all of the Eagles fans that the team allegedly abandoned?

Tough to say.

There were plenty of suits in the crowd. But not a lot of green.

Reports from ABC indicated that the "White House blasted an email to all staffers this morning inviting them to attend the event" and that many in attendance actually "had [White House] badges tucked into jackets & shirts."

Other reporters received a lot of "blank stares" from the crowd when attempting to find people actually from Philadelphia.

Perhaps the biggest indication in the lack of Birds fans was this viral tweet from NBC10's Tim Furlong: "I’ve asked 6 of the 'fans' at the White House who was the @Eagles quarterback during the super bowl. Not ONE person knew."

You can see Furlong's report from Washington below in which he said he saw literally only one or two pieces of Eagles memorabilia, but you won't see many Eagles fans in that either.