Jesse Williams is making headlines for his comments on MSNBC in which he referred to the NFL's pregame playing of the national anthem as a marketing "scam."
Back in September 2016, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the playing of the national anthem as a form of protest against the oppression of people of color. The protest sparked a debate in terms of whether Kaepernick's action was disrespectful or a form of freedom of speech. Kaepernick was not signed with an NFL team the following season. Here's a good timeline of these events.
Many athletes both in the NFL and outside of the league have continued to kneel or sit during the pregame playing of the national anthem as a form of protest. In fact, star athletes like Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers locked arms or knelt with teammates before this past weekend's game in response to President Donald Trump's recent tweets and remarks in Alabama in which he said, "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag to say 'Get that son of a b-tch off the field right now. Out. He's fired'?"
During his interview with MSNBC, Williams argued that the pregame playing of the national anthem isn't actually rooted in NFL tradition.
"I think, Thomas, it's also important to realize that this anthem thing is a scam," he told the interviewer. "This is not actually part of football. This was invented in 2009 from the government paying the NFL to market military recruitment—to get more people to go off and fight wars to die. This has nothing to do with NFL or American pastime or tradition. This is to get boys and girls to go fly overseas and go kill people. They're marketing. They're pumping millions and millions of dollars into the NFL to get us to put on a pageant in front of NFL football games to get you to go off and fight."
Williams also said that there was "an incredible level of cowardice and selfishness in the ownership class in this particular league on this particular topic."
"[The owners] don't know right from wrong because we know, what, seven or eight of these owners gave Donald Trump a million dollars each and are close friends with a very horrible guy who thinks he's a dictator, who treats America like it's a game show and we're North Korea and we need to stand pledging allegiance as war machines fly overhead for military recruiting videos," Williams said at one point during the interview.
Williams continued to discuss the issue on social media after the interview and this past weekend's game.
Williams' comments also drew attention from Dan Bongino, a former secret service agent and NYPD officer, on Fox and Friends.
"What planet does this clown live on?" Bongino said. "Is this guy serious that the national anthem in the beginning of a game a symbol of national solidarity for the greatest country for the history of mankind. Is this joker serious that this is some kind of a scam? You know what's a scam? Hollywood continuing to take our money while they crap all over Americans who give their hard-earned money to watch these people entertain us, and then turn around the very next day and call us all deplorables, idiots, and they make fun of us all the time."
Watch the clip for Williams' interview.