America’s non-drinking catalyst-in-chief has helped spread the NFL’s anthem kneeling controversy to NASCAR. On Friday night, speaking at a rally in Huntsville, AL, President Trump drew attention to the phenomenon of professional athletes kneeling in protest during the playing of the National Anthem started by ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016.
Trump said, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’ You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it. They don’t know it. They’ll be the most popular person, for a week. They’ll be the most popular person in this country.”
The NFL response to the president’s comments were uniform and resolute. From Saturday through Sunday morning, several NFL owners and even NFL commissioner Rodger Goodell provided official statements on the matter, condemning Trump’s remarks and showing support for the players and the players’ rights to express themselves on the field.
In Sunday’s London game featuring the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars, Jaguars owner Shad Khan kicked off the trend of the day by locking arms with players on the sidelines during the anthem. Aside from making that symbolic statement, the million dollar donor to Trump’s presidential campaign also called what the president had said “divisive and contentious.”
While NFL representation and over half of the rest of Americans were throwing up in their mouths over the POTUS’ flirtation with bully pulpit fascism, a couple of NASCAR owners were recognizing prompts in his speech about competitive advantage. As if directly following Trump’s suggestion, seven-time NASCAR champ and owner Richard Petty told the Associated Press he would fire members of his team who chose to protest the national anthem.
“Anybody that don’t stand up for that ought to be out of the country. Period,” said the silver-tongued Petty. “If they don’t appreciate where they’re at…what got them where they’re at? The United States.”
NASCAR turned out not to be quite as unified on the camber of the issue as the NFL. In fact, racing favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. seized the opportunity to reflect a little more deeply on the constitutional guarantee of free speech. Dale Jr. contrasted pretty starkly with his fellow owners, saying in a tweet, “All Americans R granted rights 2 peaceful protests,” adding a warning from President John F. Kennedy.
All Americans R granted rights 2 peaceful protests
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable-JFK
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) September 25, 2017
Earnhardt Jr.’s company, JR Motorsports, happens to own the first and only craft-beer-sponsored car in all of professional stock car racing, the Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale Chevrolet on the NASCAR Xfinity Series, driven in 2017 by Elliott Sadler.
— Elliott Sadler (@Elliott_Sadler) June 7, 2017
Brew Studs reached out to Oskar Blues for comments regarding the emerging NASCAR controversy and Dale Jr.’s tweet, and we’ll update this story if we receive more information.