According to the Wall Street Journal, several NFL owners said in depositions that President Donald J. Trump played a factor in conversations about how to handle the player protests during the national anthem. The report stems from the testimony that several owners have provided as part of Colin Kaepernick’s collusion case against the league.
One of the owners, Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys, told the court that President Trump called him personally about the issue.
“This is a very winning, strong issue for me,” Jones said Trump told him during a phone call. “Tell everybody, you can’t win this one. This one lifts me.”
In addition to Jones, the Journal reported that Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross testified that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft also had a conversation with the president surrounding the anthem.
The president ignited further controversy surrounding the protests when he railed against players who demonstrated during the anthem during a speech in Huntsville, Alabama last September. His comments then sparked a league-wide reaction and protests of varying forms from entire teams locking arms during the anthem to the Cowboys taking a knee with locked arms prior to the playing of the anthem.
In addition to Jones and Ross, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the aforementioned Kraft have been deposed as part of Kaepernick’s case against the league.
Kaepernick was the first NFL athlete to take a knee during the national anthem in 2016 in protest of police brutality and racial injustice in the United States. He spent all of last season as a free agent after opting out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers and is suing the league because he alleges that the owners colluded to not sign him to a contract.