Now, I want to issue a — I don’t know what you call this, a message. I just want to say something to you players of the National Football League. The American people love your sport. The American people respect you who have the unique human ability to play it at the level you play it. But the American people are not going to sit by idly and watch the stage of the National Football League stolen and used for personal political purposes.
You players in the NFL, you can go ahead and try to continue stealing the stage of the NFL if you want. You can take the example of Kaepernick and you can try to get some news coverage, you can draw attention to yourself, but you run the risk of obliterating the stage on which you perform that earns you your living and gives you the opportunity to succeed beyond your wildest dreams.
You better be careful in what and how you express your thoughts on this country, the greatest place in the history of mankind. And the residents of this country are among the luckiest in the history of all humanity. The National Football League is on TV. It can easily be turned off. The National Football League is sponsored by beer and cars and soft drinks that can easily be not purchased. Not that hard. Just turn it off.
You better be especially careful because the opening weekend of the National Football League this year is the 15th anniversary of 9/11. Opening Sunday in the National Football League this year is September the 11th, the 15th anniversary. And if a number of you endeavor to try to steal the stage of the National Football League to call attention to a personal political issue, attention you could not get without stealing the stage of the National Football League, you run the risk of doing grave damage to the league and business in which you play and are paid, a business which depends on massive public love and support and attention and money.
So you I think need to consider all of this responsibly and try to understand who your audience is and why they are watching and understand that they tune in to three hours, six hours, nine hours, however many hours on Sunday and Monday they watch, and now Thursday, to escape what they consider to be the stresses and the strains and the humdrum of their lives.
They tune in to the National Football League for a little break from the hassles of life. They tune in to the National Football League to forget all of these things that are causing controversy and divisiveness. They want to be entertained; we want to be entertained. We want to watch spectacular athleticism. We want to watch the drama of competition. We want to watch programming that has no script, therefore we have no ending, until it actually ends. And you run the risk of destroying all that if you misplace your priorities.
I’ll add this: The “business in which [the players] play and are paid” is a business that the players need but the owners don’t. Extremely few NFL players would have any other way to make as much money as they are in the NFL, and most would be french fry jockeys but for. OTOH, the owners, for the most part, made their money in other endeavors, and own either the entirety or percentage shares of NFL teams as hobbies and for PR. But for the NFL, most of them wouldn’t miss much of a beat in life.