Michael Strahan: Black NFL players feel Donald Trump told them to 'stay in their place'

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"Fox NFL Sunday" panelist Michael Strahan has the status and background to be an influencer in the debate over players protesting during the national anthem.
"Fox NFL Sunday" panelist Michael Strahan has the status and background to be an influencer in the debate over players protesting during the national anthem.

A ton of comments were made about President Donald Trump during Sunday's NFL pregame shows, but I thought some of the most interesting came from Michael Strahan on "Fox NFL Sunday."

The "Good Morning America" co-host said frustrated black players feel as though Trump ordered them to "stay in your place" with his comments about firing "son of a bitch" players like Colin Kaepernick who protest during national anthem. NFL teams and players and owners have been largely disapproving of Trump's comments, complete with a number of on-field demonstrations Sunday.

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"A lot of them have taken exception to being called SOBs. They feel like they’ve been told to stay in their place. I think that’s very frustrating for these guys," said Strahan. "Not everyone kneels. But for the guys who don’t kneel, they do have an understanding of what the other guys are kneeling for. It's a personal preference as a player, to choose to kneel or choose not to kneel. But it's turned into an issue about the flag. It's never been an issue about the flag. It's been an issue about inequality, injustice and mistreatment of minorities."

The former Giants superstar's words carry weight. For one thing, he's one of the most prominent African-American media personalities, not just in sports but all entertainment.

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Strahan's one of the few former sports personalities, along with Robin Roberts, Michelle Beadle, Charissa Thompson and Jesse Palmer, to successfully branch into more mainstream entertainment reporting. As one of the most prominent black NFL analysts on TV, his words carry a personal insight that white colleagues such as Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long and Jimmy Johnson simply don't have.

Just as important, Strahan also understands the mindset of the U.S. military. He's a military brat whose father was an officer in the U.S. Army. Strahan grew up on army bases in Germany. He knows how soldiers think when fans say they're mortally insulted by the flag protests.

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Strahan's Fox Sports colleague Mike Hill is one of the few veterans to become a big-time sports announcer (Hill enlisted in the U.S. Air Force after high school), and he, too, has defended the rights of players to protest.

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While seemingly every media personality has weighed in on whether the protests are an insult to the first responders and the U.S. military, I believe the opinions of Strahan and Hill have extra significance. They certainly understand the importance of the meaning of the anthem — along with the importance of being able to choose to kneel during the playing or singing of it.

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