Trump Takes Field for National Anthem at College Football Championship Game in Georgia

President Trump on Monday at the College Football Playoff championship game in Atlanta. His appearance seemed intended to emphasize his critique of athletes for using football games as a place for protests.
Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Trump, who has criticized professional football players for kneeling during the national anthem, stood on the field here on Monday as it played before the College Football Playoff championship game between the University of Alabama and the University of Georgia.

Flanked by members of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, Mr. Trump placed his right hand over his heart, just below an American flag pin on his lapel, and mouthed the words while the Zac Brown Band sang the anthem. Afterward, Mr. Trump quickly retreated to the security of a private box.

The president’s appearance at the game seemed intended to emphasize his furious critique of athletes for using football games as a place for protests. Neither team’s players went onto the field on Monday until after the anthem was played, as is standard at college football games.

Earlier in the day, during a speech to farmers in Nashville, Mr. Trump repeated his frustration with the players who knelt during N.F.L. games.

“We want our flag respected. We want our flag respected. And we want our national anthem respected, also,” the president said to chants of “U.S.A.!” from the audience at the Farm Bureau’s annual convention. “There’s plenty of space for people to express their views and to protest, but we love our flag, we love our anthem.”

Mr. Trump made no remarks after entering the stadium to loud cheers and a smattering of boos from the enthusiastic college football fans. In interviews before the game, Mr. Trump’s supporters and critics alike dryly noted that he was appearing at one of the country’s showiest sporting events in a glittering, $1.5 billion stadium in a congressional district that he condemned last year on Twitter as “falling apart” and “crime infested.”

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SOURCE: NY Times, Alan Blinder and Michael D. Shear