President Trump began the day after Thanksgiving by asking incredulously whether his 43 million Twitter followers can believe that NFL players who protest racial inequality during the national anthem have not been penalized for doing so.
A short time later, Trump announced on Twitter that he would spend part of the day golfing with Tiger Woods, a serial philanderer who entered a DUI diversion program last month, and Dustin Johnson, whose six-month hiatus from the PGA Tour “to seek professional help for personal challenges” in 2014 and 2015 reportedly stemmed from a second positive test for cocaine.
The contrast here is striking. Trump displays utter contempt for NFL players whose only crime is following Colin Kaepernick's example by sitting, kneeling or raising fists during “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Yet the president is proud to associate himself with athletes who have allegedly — or, in some cases, definitely — committed actual crimes, including some rather serious ones.
Below, I have listed 10 troubled sports figures whom Trump has praised, despite their actions, besides Woods and Johnson. Agree or disagree with Trump's stance on protests during the anthem, it is worth considering the kind of behavior he seems to find less objectionable.
The former heavyweight boxing champion was convicted of rape in 1992. Trump defended Tyson at the time and even seemed to blame the victim, an 18-year-old beauty pageant contestant.
“You have a young woman that was in his room, his hotel room late in the evening at her own will,” Trump told NBC. “You have a young woman who was seen [the next day] dancing for the beauty contest, dancing with a big smile on her face, looked happy as could be.”
Four years before Tyson's conviction, Knight famously said, “I think that if rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it.”
Knight was convicted of assaulting a police officer while in Puerto Rico to coach the U.S. basketball team at the 1979 Pan-American Games. He was fired by Indiana University in 2000, following the public release of a videotape on which Knight could be seen grabbing a player by the throat during a practice three years earlier.
Four women accused Knight of groping them in 2015.
Rose has admitted to having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl when he was 34.
Floyd Mayweather Jr.
The boxer has been convicted of domestic violence multiple times, most recently in 2011.
Clemens's former strength coach says he routinely injected the seven-time Cy Young Award-winning pitcher with steroids — a claim that precipitated Clemens's 2010 indictment for perjury. Clemens had denied using steroids in congressional testimony two years earlier.
Clemens was acquitted in 2012, prompting Trump's congratulatory tweet, above. But Hall of Fame voters generally believe that Clemens cheated and have refused to induct him.
The boxing promoter was convicted of second-degree murder in 1967 for beating to death a man who owed him a $600 gambling debt. King's charge was later reduced to manslaughter, and he served only four years in prison.
Phelps pleaded guilty to drunken driving in 2004 and again in 2014. In between, the 28-time Olympic medalist was suspended by the U.S. swim team in 2009 after he was photographed with a marijuana pipe.
The 1995 British Open champion got dumped by his coach in March 2008 because, according to the coach, “the most important thing in his life is getting drunk.”
Seven months later, police took Daly into custody after finding him passed out drunk at a Winston-Salem, N.C., Hooters restaurant at 2:17 a.m.
Police in New York investigated the hockey star in 2015, after a woman accused him of rape, but the woman later told prosecutors she no longer wished to pursue a case, and prosecutors decided not to charge Kane, citing a lack of evidence.