By Peter Mertz
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- The National Football League (NFL)'s controversy with U.S. President Donald Trump isn't going away. On the contrary, it could scorch to other fields as more sports stars and media involved in it.
Kobe Bryant, legend super star of Los Angeles Lakers, said in a Wednesday appearance on The Hollywood Reporter's Awards Chatter podcast that he would take a knee during the national anthem before National Basketball Association (NBA) games were he still an active player.
More speculations emerged as NBA has rule asking players to stand during anthem time before the match, but NFL has not.
Three weeks ago, when Trump called for NFL players to be fired for not standing for the national anthem, he accelerated an issue the owners wish would go away.
On Saturday, it was more of the same - as many NFL players kneeled or stood with their fists raised toward the sky - replicating the "black power" gesture of 1960s America - in protest of racial injustice and police brutality.
The 97-year-old NFL is valued at 50 billion U.S. dollars, has 32 teams in America's biggest cities, and is about 70 percent African American.
"Colin Kaepernick started it all last season," said California businessman Glenn Nemhauser, recalling the San Francisco 49er quarterback kneeling before a game to protest police brutality against blacks.
But the president's numerous tweets during the past weeks, calling players "unpatriotic" who refused to stand for the American national anthem and criticizing the team owners for not enforcing the respect of the flag, are just amplifying the movement, Nemhauser contends.
"Trump told the owners to get on board and mandate players to stand up during the national anthem, but they never did," said Washington DC insider Louis Cardona.
So the owners, many of whom supported Trump, are now also targets for the president's anger.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he had talked of the president over the last weekend, and that he was not backing down on his insults of the league.
That caused Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to claim the league would lose "a 50 million U.S. dollars sponsor" if the kneeling continued.
But a Yahoo study released this week noted that with profits averaging 101 million U.S. dollars annually per team, a 40 million U.S. dollars loss would affect each team insignificantly.
Trump's contention that the league and players are being un-American was disregarded again and again, as was his insistence that players stand for the anthem.
"Make no mistake, we love this great country and have tremendous respect for our military and veterans who have sacrificed so much for our right to express ourselves freely," the San Francisco 49er players said.
"We passionately want what is best for this country and all its citizens," they added.
"Trump is a smart strategist...there is a solid argument that he is picking this fight on purpose as a distraction," Cardona told Xinhua.
"The NFL is a good media break from the Russian investigation, a potential nuclear war with North Korea, his failed health care reform plans, and most recently, his unbelievably bad response to the disaster in Puerto Rico," Cardona said.
Trump has been blasted for the weak federal response to the devastation of Hurricane Maria hitting Puerto Rico two weeks ago that caused the entire island to lose power and has thrown four million people into a life of desperation.
"African Americans are looking at the very sad legacy of this administration so far - coddling the white supremacists in Charlottesville, his dislike of Mexicans, his disinterest in Puerto Rica, and now the NFL attack - all a consistent pattern of Trump appeasing his white radical fringe," Nemhauser said.
Trump seemed to believe his attack on the NFL would appeal to the base of white rural voters who helped fuel his unlikely rise from reality television star to the U.S. President, CNN said.
"Trump is a divider, not a unifier," said Sandy Phillips, a political activist and frequent television commentator.
"Trump is on the golf course having fun, while people in Puerto Rica are fighting for their lives - so he attacks the NFL as a diversion," Phillips told Xinhua.
"The players are caught in the middle of this, between the owners and the president, and they are under tremendous pressure," Phillips said.
Regardless of whether insulting a professional sports league was the best use of the president's time, Yahoo noted, "it meant the NFL couldn't just hope for this all to blow over."
And while many fans in weekend's stadiums booed their home team for their silent protests, support for the player's behaviour far outweighed overall criticism, with polls showing 75 percent of Americans disagreeing with the Trump's tactics.
"It is so un-presidential for a president to be spending his precious time criticizing a sports entity," Phillips said.