Then Trump criticized the protests during a speech in Alabama, following it up with a slew of tweets complaining about them.
If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
The next weekend, during NFL Week 3, the NFL protests soared. You can see it on the chart below. Nearly every team had either individual players protesting or some sort of team action (linking arms or kneeling) for example. (The size of the darker-colored player circles correlates to the number of players participating.) In some cases, those team demonstrations or new individual player protests have been continued since.
We’ve also labeled Vice President Pence’s appearance at and early departure from the Week 5 game between the Indianapolis Colts and the 49ers. No team has had as many players involved in protests this year as the Niners, reinforcing the idea that Pence knew exactly what he was getting into when he went there in the first place.
While no week saw quite the same amount of activity as Week 3, the number of team demonstrations and player protests has remained fairly consistent over the past three weekends. (All of these figures come from ESPN reporting, by the way; links to those reports are at the bottom of this article.)
Trump’s tweets have followed a similar pattern. A big surge in Week 3 and fewer since. The most recent was Monday.
Two dozen NFL players continue to kneel during the National Anthem, showing total disrespect to our Flag & Country. No leadership in NFL!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 23, 2017
Fake news: It was three dozen.