NFL-alternative The XFL is set to kick off (again) in 2020, and visionary Vince McMahon wants to see all of his players stand and salute the flag during the “Star-Spangled Banner.”
As a matter of fact, he’s considering making that a rule.
“It’s a time-honored tradition to stand and appreciate the national anthem with any sport,” the WWE boss told TheWrap. “Here in America — for that matter, in any country…so I think it’d be appropriate to do that.”
McMahon’s comments will be music to President Trump’s ears, who lambasted NFL players earlier this season for kneeling during the anthem.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag,” Trump said at a rally in Alabama, “to say ‘get that son of a b–h off the field’ right now, out! He’s fired?'”
Trump’s comments were aimed at players like former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started kneeling during the 2016 season and quickly became the face of the protests. The NFL — dealing with a noticeable decline in ratings — has struggled with the fallout, with several teams kneeling, locking arms, or not taking the field for the anthem.
“Whatever our rules are is what everyone will abide by,” McMahon said earlier during the conference call, when he was first asked by a different outlet about an allowance or disallowance for free speech in his league.
Knowing where the indirect question was really headed, the businessman brought up the anthem on his own.
“There is plenty of opportunity and plenty of ways in which players… can express [themselves] in terms of [their] own personal views, as far as social aspects are concerned — whether or not that’s Twitter or Facebook or whatever,” he said. “But, again, we’re here to play football. When we come onto the field, we’re here to play football. That’s everyone’s job.”
McMahon announced the XFL’s relaunch on Thursday, promising a “fan-centric, innovative experience” that includes “shorter, fast-paced games and a family-friendly environment.” The wholesome nature seems to fly in contrast to the league’s first and only season back in 2001, which boasted less rules and wrestling-esque peeks into the cheerleader locker room.