President Donald Trump is calling for the NFL to suspend Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch for standing during the Mexican national anthem and sitting during the American national anthem. Trump has repeatedly criticized NFL football players for taking a knee as an act of protest during "The Star-Spangled Banner."
On Nov. 19, social media images showed Lynch standing at attention during the Mexican national anthem and remaining seated during the American national anthem at a Raiders game against the New England Patriots in Mexico City, ESPN reports.
On Nov. 20, Trump took to Twitter to demand that the NFL suspend the running back.
"Marshawn Lynch of the NFL's Oakland Raiders stands for the Mexican Anthem and sits down to boos for our National Anthem," Trump tweeted out. "Great disrespect! Next time NFL should suspend him for remainder of season. Attendance and ratings way down."
The social media images depicting Lynch at the Mexico City game did not show the whole story. The running back reportedly did stand for a portion of the U.S. anthem before taking a seat. When the Mexican anthem played on, he stood, but appeared not to be at attention, according to ESPN.
Lynch, who returned from retirement to the NFL for the 2017 season, rarely gives media interviews and has not explained why he sits during the national anthem. On Aug. 13, Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio told reporters he was not bothered by the player's decision.
"[Lynch] said, 'This is something I've done for 11 years,'" Del Rio stated. "'It's not a form of anything other than me being myself.' I said, 'So you understand how I feel. I very strongly believe in standing for the national anthem, but I'm going to respect you as a man. You do your thing, and we'll do ours.' So that's a non-issue for me."
During the 2016 NFL season, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee as the U.S. national anthem played before games to protest against police brutality. Supporters said the demonstration was a peaceful protest against racial injustice, while critics asserted it was disrespectful to U.S. military service members and veterans.
On Sept. 22, Trump entered the national debate over the NFL protests when he called for players who kneeled during the anthem to be fired.
"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a b***h off the field right now," Trump said during a rally in Alabama, according to The Guardian. "Out! He's fired. He's fired!"
On Nov. 19, the president also blasted media personality LaVar Ball for not being sufficiently grateful after Trump reportedly helped secure the release of Ball's son and two other UCLA college basketball players from detainment in China. Ball publicly stated he did not give the president credit, The New York Times reports.
"Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal," Trump tweeted out in response. "I should have them in jail!"