ESPN confronted the politics of Trump and race head-on Sunday.
The network began its pregame show “Sunday NFL Countdown” with a discussion about President Trump’s incendiary rhetoric about NFL players who protest during the national anthem.
One of the show’s regulars, former head coach Rex Ryan, said he supported Trump and introduced him at a campaign event. But he was visibly angry when talking about the president’s comments.
“I never signed up for that,” Ryan said. “I never wanted that. That doesn’t mean I support 100% of the things that he says and clearly this is a case.”
The protests were started last season by Colin Kaepernick, who dropped to one knee during the national anthem before games to protest the treatment of African Americans, especially by police.
In a speech on Friday night, and then in a series of tweets, Trump has said the NFL should fire any player who protests during the national anthem. Team owners and players have responded by condemning Trump. Many players vowed to protest on Sunday.
Ryan said he had gained a new perspective on the protests.
“I looked at it from a different standpoint. I looked at it from all the men and women who stood for our country,” Ryan said. “I was wrong when I looked at it initially. Now this year, I look at it as it’s a far, far greater…