Trump asks NFL players to recommend pardon candidates

In an unexpected twist to the NFL’s anthem/kneeling saga, President Donald Trump on Friday opened the door to allowing players to demonstrate exactly why they’re protesting, by offering to consider possible pardons based on their recommendations.

“I’m going to ask all of those people to recommend to me — because that’s what they’re protesting — people that they think were unfairly treated by the justice system,” Trump said Friday morning. “And I understand that. I’m going to ask them to recommend to me people that were unfairly treated and I’m gonna take a look at those applications and if I find and my committee finds that they’ve been unfairly treated than we’ll pardon them. Or at least let them out.”

It’s an indisputably positive statement by a president who’s long been at odds with the NFL. The question, of course, is whether the president will actually carry through on the offer, and if so, how closely he’ll consider the applications. But at least the offer’s on the table, which is something that couldn’t have been said before.

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The NFL protests, despite what the president and others have tried to claim, are not meant as unpatriotic protests against America, but rather are intended to bring attention to systemic racism and police brutality. And while the pardon offer won’t necessarily impact cases of police brutality, it could, in theory, help mitigate some race-based or unduly harsh sentencing.

Shortly after the president made his statement, two-time Super Bowl-winning kicker Lawrence Tynes responded:

Mark Tynes is in prison in Arkansas for what court documents termed “a 324-month sentence for conspiring to possess with intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more but less than 1,000 kilograms of a mixture or substance containing marijuana.” Mark Tynes’ prior history led to the 27-year sentence, one that

“Is my brother guilty? Yes,” Tynes said prior to the 2008 Super Bowl. “But 27 years? I understand how the system works. I was a criminal justice major. I understand what happens if you have priors. But still, 27 years? My brother being in prison isn’t the injustice. The sentence was the injustice.”

Expect the president to receive many such appeals in the coming days. How he handles the requests he himself sought will say much about his capacity for good faith in the NFL anthem discussions going forward.

President Trump has asked NFL players for recommendations of pardon candidates. (Reuters)
President Trump has asked NFL players for recommendations of pardon candidates. (Reuters)

Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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