The most high-profile national anthem protest during Sunday's NFL games came not from a player but from Vice President Mike Pence. He walked out of a Colts-49ers game because some players took a knee, and the VP wrote that he would not "dignify" the demonstration. President Trump then tweeted that he had asked Pence to walk out, and that he "is receiving great praise for leaving game after the players showed such disrespect for country!" Here's a look at Monday morning developments:
- The cost: CNN tallies up the price of the trip, noting that Pence flew from Vegas to Indianapolis and then back west to Los Angeles. The total air cost for that is about $240,000. Had Pence skipped the Indy trip and just flown from Vegas to LA, it would have cost about $45,000. A Pence rep says the trip to the game was planned weeks in advance so the VP could see Peyton Manning be honored; the RNC will foot part of the cost because Pence was attending a political event in LA.
- Player lashes back: San Francisco 49er Eric Reid called the move "a PR stunt" that distorts the players' message by depicting as being against the flag or the military instead of racial injustice. "This is what systemic oppression looks like," he said, per NBC News. "A man with power comes to the game, tweets a couple of things out and leaves the game with an attempt to thwart our efforts."
- Jerry Jones move: The Cowboys owner said after his own team's game Sunday that any player who is "disrespectful to the flag" will not play, becoming the first NFL owner to lay down such a rule, reports the Dallas Morning News. He did not, however, specify what action would be "disrespectful." Two Cowboys players raised their fists at the anthem's conclusion Sunday.
- A 'mockery': At USA Today, Nancy Amour writes a scathing column accusing Pence of making a "mockery" of the anthem, "co-opting it for a stunt that served no other purpose than to sow division, further enrage the administration’s conservative base and try to cow NFL owners." The VP, she adds, "tried to play the country for a fool." At the San Jose Mercury News, Dieter Kurtenbach wonders of Pence and company, "Did they not think this would come across as the partisan spectacle that it was?"
- Good move: "Good for Mike Pence," declares Steve Hilton in a commentary on Fox. He faults players for dragging a "unifying national symbol," the flag, into their protests on racial injustice. That prevents a "respectful" conversation from taking place about actual solutions, he says. Also at Fox, Todd Starnes writes that Pence "finally got tired of tolerating the boorish behavior of a bunch of intolerant, unAmerican malcontents," and he hopes that NFL fans will follow his lead.
- Insult to Manning?: The VP's action overshadowed the Colts' tribute to the legendary Manning, writes Peter King at Sports Illustrated, who wonders whether Pence is "a puppet for the president or his own man." Pence presents himself as a diehard fan, but the VP "slapped Manning and Pence's beloved Colts in the face."
- Colin Kaepernick: A CBS reporter who interviewed Kaepernick caused a ruckus by tweeting that the QB would not kneel if a team re-signed him. However, the reporter then clarified that he hadn't actually addressed the issue in the interview and has no idea what Kaepernick would do. The AP explains the confusion.
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