NFL Players Respond to Trump's Pardon Request

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Doug Baldwin

"[The president's] ability to change the lives of people for the better is immense," they wrote. "We hope he uses it, not just for the few, but for the many.”

President Donald Trump two weeks ago asked NFL players — the very people he has been at war with over protesting during the National Anthem — who they suggested he pardon next. 

They have answered. 

In an op-ed published Thursday by The New York Times, with a byline of current and former NFL players, including Doug Baldwin, Anquan Boldin, Malcolm Jenkins and Benjamin Watson, the socially conscious pro athletes said if Trump were serious, they have ideas. 

“He could use his powers, including the clemency power, to make a real dent in the federal prison population,” they wrote. “People like Alice Johnson, for example, should not be given de facto life sentences for nonviolent drug crimes in the first place. The president could stop that from happening by issuing a blanket pardon for people in that situation who have already served long sentences.”

Johnson, a 63-year-old former drug dealer, was recently pardoned from a life sentence by Trump at the behest of Kim Kardashian. 

The president asked a couple of weeks ago if players had suggestions for pardon candidates: “I told the NFL players indirectly, I said you have somebody — they're saying people are aggrieved. Let me know about it, I will look at it." 

Trump has had NFL players in his sights since he took office. He has made it clear that he has a major problem with those who protest the treatment of African-Americans in this country by taking a knee during the national anthem, publicly calling those who participate a "son of a bitch." Trump has also insisted any player who kneels should be fired. A new rule is in place for the 2018 season which allows players who wish to protest to stay in the locker room, but not kneel on the field during the anthem or a fine will be levied. 

Those who wrote the op-ed made it clear they will continue to do what they feel is right. 

“President Trump, please note: Our being professional athletes has nothing to do with our commitment to fighting injustice,” the piece reads. “We are citizens who embrace the values of empathy, integrity and justice, and we will fight for what we believe is right. We do it because we love this country, our communities and the people in them. This is our America, our right.”

They also suggested laws need to be changed so would-be offenders don't have their lives up-ended over a mistake. 

"[The president's] ability to change the lives of people for the better is immense," they wrote. "We hope he uses it, not just for the few, but for the many.”