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To the chagrin of the “stick to sports” crowd, the biggest story in the NFL on Sunday was deeply political. Since Donald Trump called players who kneel during the national anthem “sons of bitches” Friday night, protest has dominated conversation about and around the league. Owners have issued statements, players have sent angry tweets and sports television has had no choice but to go after Trump head on.

So on Sunday morning, as the Jaguars and Ravens got a day of protest underway in London, the studio shows on CBS, Fox and NFL Network discussed Trump’s comments and the league’s reaction.

On Fox, Tony Gonzalez had some strong words for Trump:

“I’m not surprised by this, the president’s remarks. We’ve grown accustomed to hearing this,” Gonzalez said. “But I will say this: All he did was galvanize the NFL to come together, from ownership to the players. And not even just football. This goes to every sport. Basketball, you’re seeing. Baseball.”

Added Colin Cowherd: “I think this is the opposite of what Trump intended, but I think it’s a wonderful thing we’re seeing around the league.”

CBS went all-out on discussing Trump and the player protests. First the NFL Today panel, including Charles Barkley, discussed the president’s comments.

“The president of the United States should never use the words ‘SOB.'” Barkley said. “But we as players got to figure out what to do next. We’ve got to stop worrying about who’s kneeling and who’s not kneeling. We’ve to figure out how we can go back in our communities and make a difference.”

Nate Burleson seemed to respectfully take exception to some of Barkley’s comments.

“We’re talking about what’s next, and I appreciate your thoughts on that, but as players we also have to handle what’s now,” Burleson said. “There’s gonna be players that will sit and will kneel… and it’s because of things that are going on in this country but it’s also because of the words of our president. … This is almost a direct response to our president calling our players, and I saw ‘us’ SOBs. And this isn’t, as a player, ‘woe is me.’ This is ‘woe is us,’ as a country.”

CBS later brought in Face the Nation host John Dickerson, then Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, then analyst and former Raiders CEO Amy Trask.

“This is a time of change,” Carroll said. “Our players are ready to activate. They’re ready to be the messengers of the change that is necessary for us. This is so crucial that we take this opportunity and make the most of it. Inequalities, treating people unfairly, treating people uniquely because of their background and where they come from is no longer OK.”

NFL Network also did not shy away from Trump on its pregame show, with several analysts speaking strongly Sunday morning. Marshall Faulk began the conversation.

“We find a way to be one, not just on this show but in this country,” Faulk said. “We put a lot of differences aside to make sure we can live together and enjoy this great country. And time and time again, divisive things are being said by our leader, the leader of the free world.”

Michael Irvin compared Trump’s response to this summer’s Nazi rally in Charlottesville with his response to NFL players protesting, calling it “a sad, sad day.” Kurt Warner and Rich Eisen also chimed in, and Steve Mariucci discussed Trump’s comments about player safety.

Presumably, some people at each of these three networks would have preferred a football-focused show Sunday, but there was simply no avoiding Trump.

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports, MLB.com, SI.com and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.

  • Shawn Diiorio

    Charles Barkley? Really?

  • JWJ

    What now will be interesting are the ratings of the games?
    Also, the NFL will now not be able to impose any limitations on the way the protests will be expressed. Raised fists after sacks and touchdowns is just the start.

  • Carter_Burger67

    the media is fanning the flames of their destruction.

    • Deon Hamner

      President should have just kept his mouth shut. You’re in Alabama for a campaign rally. No need to bring up Kaepernick. He’s not even on a team. Someone should tell Doturd, let sleeping dogs lie..

      • Carter_Burger67

        ok

        • Deon Hamner

          Thanks for conceding

          • Carter_Burger67

            ok

          • Deon Hamner

            OK GOOD

          • Carter_Burger67

            boy, you so crazy.

          • Deon Hamner

            ok thanks…

          • Carter_Burger67

            ok

          • Deon Hamner

            ok

          • Carter_Burger67

            ok

          • Deon Hamner

            ok

          • Carter_Burger67

            ok boy

          • Deon Hamner

            I know it must difficult having your period come on. It’ll be O—

          • Carter_Burger67

            ok boy!

          • Carter_Burger67

            -k

          • Deon Hamner

            don’t call me boy..

          • Carter_Burger67

            boy you still crazy

          • Deon Hamner

            And bitch you still corny

          • Carter_Burger67

            ok boy

          • Carter_Burger67

            boy, you so cra-cra

          • Carter_Burger67

            do you self identify as something else with the gay thing and all?

          • Deon Hamner

            What are you 6? I’m not gay snd there isn’t wrong with those who are. Just shows you’ve bigoted mind. Didn’t know we traveled back to Jim Crow with the name calling. But ok..

          • Carter_Burger67

            boy you so crazy.

          • Carter_Burger67

            name calling., ha, ha. boy you crayzee

          • Carter_Burger67

            Or should that be “boi”?

  • Gregor Vartabedian

    this was beautiful. in the end it doesn’t matter what you say or the president says – the all mighty $$ will speak. keep up the good work nfl – players can disrespect the flag and anthem, and the org can continue to lose a portion of its audience.

  • noonan18

    I noticed none of these networks brought on someone that supports what Trump was saying to get differing viewpoints. My guess it was either done by design to make it look like everyone took the players side, or they didn’t want to tick off their cash cow. Maybe a little of both. What I saw yesterday was still more players standing than sitting. I also think Villenueva has a whole bunch more fans today.

    • John Danknich

      Why on Earth would they have done that? 🙂

    • JWJ

      Excellent point.
      There was NO DISSENTING viewpoints. I imagine if you disagree or even question the quasi-religious dogma of the leftism on these networks, you are persona-non-grata.

      The only way to get 100% uniformity is clear discrimination, hatred, and bigotry.

  • BobLee Says

    Time for a national referendum on “all this”. There are lots more “fans” than there are players and TV talkers. Empty seats and fewer viewers “speak”. We shall see what we shall see… let the chips fall where they may.