Leadership

The kneeling NFL players may actually be following Donald Trump's best business advice

Eric Reid #35 and Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers kneel on the sideline during the anthem
Michael Zagaris | San Francisco 49ers | Getty Images
Eric Reid #35 and Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers kneel on the sideline during the anthem

Over the past few days, President Donald Trump has roundly criticized NFL players who are protesting by taking a knee during the national anthem, but arguably they are following his own advice, which appears in a recent interview with Forbes Magazine.

Forbes included a personal essay by Trump as part of its centennial issue's "100 Greatest Business Minds" series. In the essay, Trump says the greatest business lesson he has learned is the same message he has for young people across America: "Never give up."

"Even in the most difficult circumstances, have faith in yourself, confidence in your abilities and the conviction that you will be able to win for your family, for your business and for your country," Trump says.

Colin Kaepernick has drawn on his own faith, confidence and conviction as he has protested, he told NFL Media in an interview last year.

"I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed," Kaepernick said. "If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right."

He has persisted despite the consequences, which is what Trump advises young people to do. "You have to relish the fight — you have to enjoy coming in to work each day and going to battle for what you believe in, and for the people who you believe in," the President writes.

Kaepernick remains an unsigned player, but plenty of other NFL players have taken up his fight on the field. More than 200 sat down, knelt or raised their fists during the national anthem before their games on Sunday, according to the Associated Press. Even owners have now gotten involved in support of their players.

As Trump notes in his essay, "each victory along the way will feed into another victory, and another opportunity, and another chance for a breakthrough."

"By building this momentum, by pushing, by never backing down and by refusing to allow other people to define your limits, you will bring your goals into closer range, and you will accomplish them," Trump says.

Indeed, for many players, the increased national attention to their protests has provided them with momentum and has perhaps even brought their goals into closer range.

The quarterback's early protests were often solo acts, SBNation reports, but soon athletes across sports industries protested with him in solidarity. And now the fight is dominating the national conversation.

Kaepernick has said he hopes these protests can bring people together.

"It's something that can unify this team. It's something that can unify this country. If we have these real conversations that are uncomfortable for a lot of people," he said. "And if we reach common ground, and can understand what everybody's going through, we can really affect change. And make sure that everyone is treated equally and has the same freedom."

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