The debate over President Trump’s criticism of NFL players who don’t stand during the national anthem spilled over Sunday into the parking lot of the StubHub Center in Carson, where Los Angeles Chargers fans were gathered to watch the team battle the Kansas City Chiefs.
Tobin Ellis, 43, was sitting with a group of friends a few hours before the game, tailgating in the parking lot outside the stadium. They were drinking beers and grilling carne asada on a small charcoal grill.
Ellis said he heard Trump’s comments and has been following the response.
“Our president should be spending his time on more important things,” he said from a lawn chair seated in front of a black SUV with a giant TV propped in its tailgate tuned to football. “He’s basically politicized the game. I’m here to watch football, not worry about manufactured rhetoric.”
His friend, Greg Gilmer, 43, grinned.
“I second that!” he said.
But their friend Ryan Higgins, 41, disagreed. Higgins said he voted for Trump. He said he finds the president’s willingness to speak his mind refreshing.
“I don’t mind him saying it,” Higgins said. “It’s not a big deal …. This country is phenomenal because of freedom of speech,” and it was Trump’s right to voice his displeasure with the players’ protests.
He was referring to protests that began when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem last season. Kaepernick’s action was in response to the large number of black men killed by police.
At a political rally on Friday, Trump challenged NFL owners to fire…
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