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Tom Brady links arms with wide receiver Phillip Dorsett. Photo: Steven Senne / AP

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell tells Sports Illustrated's Peter King that yesterday's demonstrations "reflected the frustration, the disappointment, of the players over the divisive rhetoric [from Trump]. ... People love coming together around football. We saw nothing but exciting football."

And President Trump told reporters as he boarded Air Force One in New Jersey last night: "[T]his has nothing to do with race. I've never said anything about race. This has nothing to do with race or anything else. This has to do with respect for our country, and respect for our flag."

Both protagonists were able to claim victory after the weekend's sudden drama.

  • The massive unknown is whether President Trump will drop this topic for another, as he has so often, or make this a crusade.

Our takeaways:

  • The NFL thinks this turned out to be a unifying moment for the league, but hopes Trump moves on.
  • Players were angry but the reaction wound up controlled — there could have been much more chaos.
  • For the NFL, this was a distraction from the core product: People tune in to watch games, not politics.
  • Any time you have to say something's not about race, you have a problem.
  • Republicans think the confrontation ultimately helps them with Middle America — their voters.
  • But I hear from a rising swath that wishes Trump would focus on the country's real problems.
  • We're at least as divided as ever. This weekend showed that no part of our lives is off-limits.

Overheard 1: "My fantasy player kneeled. Now I have to drop him."

Overheard 2: "Fantasy leagues should give a point for kneeling."

Groundhog Day ... "Trump's War With NFL Threatens to Overshadow Rollout of Tax Plan."

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Go deeper

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
2 mins ago - Economy & Business

"Great resignation" wave coming for companies

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Companies that made it through the pandemic in one piece now have a major new problem: more than a quarter of their employees may leave.

What's happening: Workers have had more than a year to reconsider work-life balance or career paths, and as the world opens back up, many of them will give their two weeks' notice and make those changes they’ve been dreaming about.

Private colleges across America can't pay their bills

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Behind the scenes in colleges across the U.S., institutions are having trouble paying their bills.

Why it matters: There’s a reckoning coming in higher education — especially for smaller, private liberal arts schools — that’s been years in the making. In obvious ways, COVID accelerated some of the trends, but college finances have been hurting for a while.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
1 hour ago - Health

Special report: America's biggest hospitals vs. their patients

Expand chart
Data: JHU; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

More than a quarter of the 100 U.S. hospitals with the highest revenue sued patients over unpaid medical bills between 2018 and mid-2020, according to new research by Johns Hopkins University provided exclusively to Axios.

Why it matters: The report suggests that, rather than being an anomaly, patient lawsuits are relatively common across the country and among the largest providers.