Ahead of Super Bowl LII on Sunday, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway defended President Donald Trump's feud with protesting NFL players who have taken a knee during the national anthem, saying "In my house and in many other households across this country we say 'you take a knee for the lord and you stand for the flag.'"
"I think that we don't have any kneelers today. We'll see what happens," she said. Conway showed support for the Philadelphia Eagles, donning a team beanie during a Sunday interview with Fox & Friends.
She defended Trump's right to "stand up for the flag," though Trump has slammed NFL players' protests, even calling on NFL owners to fire players who took a knee during the national anthem in September. "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he's fired. He's fired,'" Trump told the crowd gathered at a rally for GOP Senator Luther Strange.
Trump will be hosting a Super Bowl watch party from the Trump International Golf Club in Florida with first lady Melania Trump on Sunday. The Eagles will play the New England Patriots. The NFL has said that there are no rules that will keep players from protesting during Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began the protests when he remained seated on a bench during the national anthem at a preseason game in August 2016 and some players continued the protests by taking a knee during the "Star-Spangled Banner" during the 2017 season. Vice President Mike Pence walked out on an NFL game in October 2017 after some San Francisco 49ers players knelt during the national anthem.
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"I left today's Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem," Pence tweeted after leaving the game.
"The NFL players’ protests around the National Anthem remind us that the First Amendment applies, as a matter of law, only to government action...professional athletes don’t have a First Amendment right to protest at games. Teams can take actions against players, subject to contract provisions and union agreements," Greg Magarian, a professor of constitutional law at Washington University Law School said in September 2017.
"Free speech, however, isn’t just a legal guarantee—it’s a social value," Magarian said.
The Super Bowl will likely garner 100 million viewers, media consultant Brad Adgate predicted in a Tuesday Forbes article.
However, a Friday Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll showed that the National Football League was losing its core viewership. The percentage of men aged 18 to 49 who said they follow the NFL dropped drastically from 75 to 51 percent between 2014 and 2018, according to the poll.
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