TURLOCK — All eyes were on the NFL on Sunday, just days after President Donald Trump called out players who protest issues during the national anthem.
There were plenty of chances to see it — TVs line the walls of Turlock sports bars like Jams at 209 and Hauck’s Grill.
“I knew it was going to be some type of firestorm,” said football fan Nathan Kincaid.
It wasn’t a question of if, it was more a question of how NFL players would protest issues during the national anthem after President Trump’s recent comments calling out players who do it.
“The NFL ,it’s huge. Thousands, if not millions, of people watch the sport every Sunday and Monday,” said football fan Raymond Blaine.
Turlock has a complicated history with protesting issues during the anthem. Former Turlock native Colin Kaepernick was the first to set the trend as a member of the 49ers last season.
“It doesn’t matter to me who started it. It puts our town on the map a little bit, but if it wasn’t him, it would have neem somebody,” Kincaid said.
“For him to start that and be able to be that person to do that, all you can have is respect for the guy,” Blaine said.
As more players protest, NFL fans’ views get more conflicted.
“If a player doesn’t want to come out or protest the national anthem or involve themselves in that, that’s their choice,” said Cameron Jones. “But me as a person, I fought for this country. I feel for us, the ones that fought and put their lives on the line, do it for them. I mean I get it, there are things that are wrong, but do it for the people who put their lives on the line so you get that choice.”
With the line between sports and politics now blurred, fans are even more unsure as they watch games.
“I think they kind of overstep where they should … politicians are now going to the sports realm, I don’t think that’s right either. You have politics and you have sports, there should be a clear line between where they stand,” Kincaid said.
“I feel it’s appropriate. We look at these people not just as athletes, but as role models and individuals, so they feel they need to bring their actual personalities and beliefs into something, their political views into something, why not?” Jones said.