'Goodbye to the Jets': New York GOP Rep Rips NYJ Owner Over Pledge to Pay Kneeling Fines
A Republican Congressman who represents a part of New York that is flush with Jet fans ripped the NFL team's owner over his pledge to pay the fines for any player who demonstrates during the national anthem.
"This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem. Personnel who choose not to stand for the anthem may stay in the locker room until after the anthem has been performed," National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement outlining the new policy.
New York Jets chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson said in a statement that he will discuss the new anthem policy with coach Todd Bowles.
Johnson, who is acting as team owner while his brother Robert "Woody" Johnson IV serves as President Donald Trump's ambassador to Great Britain, told Newsday that the organization will pay any related fine.
Statement from Chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson pic.twitter.com/4JObk43oDT
— New York Jets (@nyjets) May 23, 2018
"Do I prefer they stand? Of course. But I understand if they feel the need to protest," Johnson told the paper.
Congressman Pete King, of Long Island's south shore, said he was outraged by Johnson's pledge.
Disgraceful that @nyjets owner will pay fines for players who kneel for National Anthem. Encouraging a movement premised on lies vs. police. Would he support all player protests? Would he pay fines of players giving Nazi salutes or spew racism? It’s time to say goodbye to Jets!
— Rep. Pete King (@RepPeteKing) May 26, 2018
"[It's] disgraceful that [the] New York Jets' owner will pay fines for players who kneel for [the] national anthem," King tweeted.
King asked if Johnson would be willing to pay fines related to "all player protests," including if players would choose to make "Nazi salutes or spew racism" instead of kneeling during the anthem."
"It's time to say goodbye to the Jets," King said.
Johnson also said there are "big, complicated issues that we are all struggling with" and that his players are "on the front lines."
"I don't want to come down on them like a ton of bricks," he said, according to Newsday.
For decades, the Jets have played in the same East Rutherford, N.J. stadium as their intracity neighbors, the New York Giants.
However, prior to calling the Meadowlands home, the Jets played at the former Shea Stadium in Queens and practiced at Hofstra University -- both of which are only a few miles from King's district.