The NFL draft wasn’t far from President Trump’s mind Saturday night as he addressed a crowd in Green Bay, and his decision to laud the second overall pick, a white player who has expressed support for Trump, but not mention the No. 1 pick, who is black, sparked criticism.
Trump didn’t mention Kyler Murray, the first pick in the NFL draft who was also a top-10 pick in last year’s Major League Baseball draft, in either his speech at a rally Saturday night or an earlier tweet. Rather, he praised Nick Bosa, the No. 2 pick of the San Francisco 49ers.
“He’s a MAGA fan!” Trump said. “He loves Trump, he loves MAGA.”
Trump had earlier tweeted his support for Bosa, the former Ohio State defensive end who had previously called Colin Kaepernick “a clown” and Trump and Ronald Reagan GOATs (greatest of all time) in tweets. “Congratulations to Nick Bosa on being picked number two in the NFL Draft,” Trump had tweeted earlier. “You will be a great player for years to come, maybe one of the best. Big Talent! San Francisco will embrace you but most importantly, always stay true to yourself. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
From former athletes to columnists, it did not go unnoticed that Trump passed over the chance to mention Murray. Former NFL player Shannon Sharpe defended Bosa for expressing his views while calling out those who did not extend “that same courtesy” to Kaepernick.
Ahead of the draft, Bosa had sought to downplay the political tweets, noting to ESPN that “I might end up in San Francisco,” playing for Kaepernick’s former team and in a city known to be politically liberal.
Trump probably complicated his arrival in the Bay Area, but Bosa had sought to downplay his leanings when he met with reporters who cover the Niners.
“I definitely made some insensitive decisions throughout my life,” Bosa said, referring to posts that he had deleted that appeared to “like” racist and homophobic hashtags. “I’m just excited to be here with a clean slate. I’m sorry if I hurt anybody. I definitely didn’t intend for that to be the case. But I think me being here is even better for me as a person, because I don’t think there’s anywhere, any city, that would help you grow as much as this one will.”
Bosa, who had also expressed a dislike of the movie “Black Panther” and Beyoncé, denied that his “clown” comment about Kaepernick, the former 49ers quarterback whose decision to kneel for the national anthem to raise awareness of racial inequality and police brutality drew the ire of Trump, had anything to do with Kaepernick’s protests. The president had called for NFL owners to fire any “son of a bitch” who did not stand for the anthem, and the controversy sparked a national debate.
"It wasn’t directed toward that,” Bosa said of the activism that many argue cost Kaepernick his job in the NFL. “It’s not like I’m saying his stance and what he was doing, that’s not what I was calling or talking about at all. It’s just me — a specific thing that happened — and, me as a young kid [with] a thought popping into my head and, boom, decided to tweet it out. Bad decision. I mean, I respect what he’s done. If it empowers anybody, then he’s doing a good thing. I apologize for that.”
For his part, Murray has stayed away from political posts. However, he did apologize after winning the Heisman Trophy last year for homophobic tweets from 2012. “I apologize for the tweets that have come to light tonight from when I was 14 and 15. I used a poor choice of word that doesn’t reflect who I am or what I believe. I did not intend to single out any individual or group.”
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