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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

Updated 3 hours ago - Technology

From Malcolm X to "Free Britney," new media shapes the justice system

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

True crime documentaries, podcasts and social media campaigns are bringing new attention to real-world legal proceedings — and are often affecting the outcome.

Why it matters: New media platforms can instantly put a national spotlight on cases that have long been forgotten or buried under red tape.

Updated 5 hours ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.

Updated 6 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 Omicron variant cases identified in Europe, U.K.

People wearing masks walk in London on Nov. 25. Photo: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Health officials in the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany announced on Saturday that they've detected the first known cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The discoveries come as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.