The Trump-loving rubes love his anti-NFL stance, but that’s about it

The Trump-NFL “debate” is a reflection of how polarized Americans have become in the Trump era.

If the early polling is any indication, a majority of Americans don’t agree with Donald Trump’s position that NFL players who kneel during the national anthem should be fired.

Yet his base loves it.

According to an Ipsos/Reuters poll, Americans disagree by 57 to 29 percent that the players should be fired for kneeling.

According to the Cato Institute poll, the number is 61 to 38.

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Brady is great, as usual, but can the Patriots survive their defense?

Much of the chatter about the New England Patriots in the offseason was whether Tom Brady would show any signs of slowing down at age 40.

As it turns out, Brady is as good as ever.

As the Patriots started out 2-1, he passed for 1,092 yards, the seventh-best figure for the first three games of any NFL season.

He’s already first (2011 with 1,327 yards) and fifth (2015 with 1,112 yards) in that category. And he led a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter of their 36-33 victory over the Houston Texans last Sunday.

But what is surprising is that the Patriots’ defense has fallen off a cliff.

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Taking a look back at the NFL’s Week 3

Five observations on the third weekend of the 2017 NFL season:

1. There have been many explanations for the decline in NFL ratings from protests to oversaturation to concussion concerns. But maybe the problem is that they’ve had too many boring games in recent years that cause the fans to lose interest.

Well, they solved that problem Sunday with one of the best weekends in recent memory. It was the kind of weekend that helped make the NFL what it is today.

It started with the Rams 41-39 victory over the Chargers Thursday night and then Sunday featured overtime games, games decided on the last play, wild plays and controversial calls.

The games were overshadowed by all the controversy over the protests, but the league could use more weekends like that one. The TV ratings were up three percent, although it is uncertain if the games were the reason or whether fans tuned in to see how the players would react to Donald Trump’s comments about the protests.

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NFL’s defense of free speech can’t be a short-term thing

Bret Stephens, a conservative New York Times columnist, recently lamented in a speech the shortcomings of civics education in the United States.

“Younger Americans seem to have no grasp of what our First Amendment says, much less the kind of speech it protects,’’ Stephens said.

The NFL stepped into the void this past weekend with a civics lesson on free speech with its protests during the national anthem about racial inequality and police violence against African-Americans.

The protests ramped up after Donald Trump criticized the protests, and many Americans agreed with Trump even though America was founded on dissent and sprotesting is part of our way of life.

Critics say protests during the national anthem are not American, but they are very American. The players aren’t showing disrespect, but respect for American ideals.

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It’s a start, but NFL needs to do more to stand up to racist bully Trump

Donald Trump has done the impossible now that he’s added the NFL to his list of bullying targets.

He’s united the NFL players and owners.

After his rant Friday night in Alabama calling for, among other things, “son of a bitches” who protest during the national anthem to be fired and for fans to leave the stadium if players protest, the reaction was swift Saturday from both owners and players.

They are together on this issue, arm-in-arm like brothers.

Commissioner Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith, the head of the NFLPA, both issued statements.

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Knock Manning, but two Super Bowl rings will always speak loudly

The legacy of Eli Manning is obvious.

He’s won two Super Bowls rings – two more than Hall of Famers Dan Marino and Dan Fouts and one more than Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers.

And he won both of them by pulling off fourth-period game winning drives against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. And he cost the Patriots a perfect season in 2007.

But Manning hasn’t consistently put up big numbers over his career, and he’s led the New York Giants to just one playoff game in the last five years since his last Super Bowl appearance in 2011. The Giants lost that playoff game last year to Green Bay 38-13.

And just last week, his second-year coach Ben McAdoo publicly called Manning out for “sloppy’’ play in not getting a fourth-down play off in time and taking a delay penalty.

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Five things to watch: NFL Week 3

Five things I’ll be looking at in the third week of the 2017 NFL season:

1. Belichick vs. a rookie quarterback

The New England Patriots figure to have an easy one against Houston, but one thing to watch will be how rookie quarterback DeShaun Watson fares against Bill Belichick, who is 16-5 against rookie passers and 8-0 at Foxboro.

The five rookie quarterbacks to beat the Patriots were Ben Roethlisberger and Russell Wilson and three surprising players – Geno Smith, Mark Sanchez and Colt McCoy. The odds are against Watson adding his name to that list.

But can Watson at least be competitive against the Patriots?

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