WASHINGTON — Most Americans say the protests by NFL players during the National Anthem are appropriate, a USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll finds, and they say, by overwhelming margins, that President Trump’s heated criticism of them are not.
Two-thirds in the poll of registered voters, by 68%-27%, say Trump’s call for NFL owners to fire the players and fans to boycott their games is inappropriate. That includes a third of Republicans as well as nine of 10 Democrats.
By 51%-42%, those surveyed say the players’ protests are appropriate.
“They certainly have the right to express whatever they want,” says Ryan Doyle, 19, a college student and Democratic-leaning independent from Manhattan Beach, Calif., who was among those surveyed. “It doesn’t call for violence; it doesn’t call for pain; it doesn’t call for any dramatic act.”
He adds: “Free speech is an innately American thing.”
But Jim Littlejohn, 73, a retiree who lives in the Phoenix suburb of San Tan Valley, says the president has “done the right thing.”
“My attitude towards the NFL is if you cannot respect the flag or the vets or whatever your animosity is, then stay in the locker room,” he said in a follow-up interview.