NEW YORK — NFL players who have spoken out against the national anthem protests and have not signed a letter of support for President Donald Trump are now the targets of a coordinated campaign of social media trolling.
It is the latest in a string of coordinated social media campaigns aimed at driving a wedge between the players and Trump, whose team is playing at the NFL’s headquarters in New Jersey next week.
This week, a group called the NFL Players Association released a video on its Twitter account titled “What’s your message to Trump?”
The video, which was shared more than 100 times on the NFLPA’s Instagram account, is the first of a series of videos and messages designed to drive the players’ message of unity, not to oppose Trump.
The NFLPA said it plans to host a meeting at the White House on Wednesday to discuss the issue and what players can do to support the president.
In the first video, a voiceover in which Trump said players should be allowed to kneel during the national song of “The Star-Spangled Banner” is played.
A narrator explains that players are not the ones in the streets protesting the anthem, but rather the president who is trying to divide them.
“If you’re in a place where you’re protesting against the president, you don’t get to kneelt in a way that’s disrespectful to him,” the narrator says.
“And we are going to keep trying to be as respectful as we can to the flag.”
Trump’s response is not to condemn the players, but to mock them.
Trump’s tweet about the protests, which came hours after he condemned the protests and said the anthem should be played again, was posted to Twitter on Wednesday and retweeted nearly 600 times.
On Thursday, the NFL announced the players will be honored with a speech during the National Anthem at halftime of the Packers-Broncos game.
The players are slated to speak at the halftime show before a game between the Giants and the Bills.
The league said that it has also invited the president to speak during the anthem.