In a not-so-veiled slap at the Kneel-FL, President Donald Trump hit the field for the national anthem before tonight’s Alabama-Georgia College Football Playoff Championship Game in Atlanta. For the record, he stood throughout, arms not linked.
Flanked by stoic-looking ROTC units from the two competing schools, POTUS smiled broadly and waved as he fairly strutted onto the Mercedes-Benz Stadium field, welcomed mostly by cheers in a state he won by 5-plus points in 2016. There were some audible boos as he walked to midfield, but nothing like he might have endured at, say, the Rose Bowl. ESPN is airing the game.
Sporting an American flag lapel pin, natch, Trump stood with hand over his heart while the colors were presented and “The Star-Spangled Banner” was performed by Grammy-winning country stars Zac Brown Band, with an intro and backing from David Walker & High Praise.
The camera hit the ex-reality TV star just as the last verse began, and — to his credit — he appeared to kinda sorta mouth along the words.
ESPN opted not show point a camera outside the stadium, where the groups were staging anti-Trump protests. Refuse Fascism ATL and a local chapter of NAACP had expressed plans to mobilize against the president, who has antagonized Atlanta residents by calling the city “horrible” and “crime-infested.”
Trump, of course, made a meal of the protests that have been staged throughout the NFL season, in which some players have taken a knee or otherwise displayed their distaste for POTUS during the national anthem. He, you’ll recall, has tweeted and spoken often against those Colin Kaepernick-fueled protests, telling NFL owners at one point that if a player knelt during the anthem that they should say, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now!”