Our takeaways from Week 1 of Trump vs. the NFL

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."

What's next

Trump team opts to not burn down the house

Trump attorney Jay Sekulow holds the Mueller report as Rep. Adam Schiff and other impeachment managers listen. Photo: Senate TV via AP

On opening day of the defense casePresident Trump's legal team didn't try to burn down the house by going after the Bidens.

The state of play: The team put on a fairly conventional legal rebuttal — trying to poke holes in the House impeachment managers' case, and arguing that Democrats just don't have enough evidence of wrongdoing to throw Trump out of office — especially in a year when he's up for re-election.

Trump approaches speedy acquital

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

Officials in both parties tell Axios that — barring surprise new information — President Trump is on a glide path to swift acquittal at his Senate impeachment trial, despite a blizzard of evidence bolstering Democrats' accusations.

Why it matters: Trump has a decent chance of avoiding witnesses and of losing zero Republican votes on conviction. When the news of Trump's Ukraine scandal broke, few thought every single Republican in the House and Senate would have his back. Bill Clinton pined for such unity. 

U.S. evacuates personnel as coronavirus death toll climbs

A health worker checks the temperatures of Chinese travelers arriving in Beijing from Wuhan. Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

56 people have died from an outbreak of a coronavirus strain that originated in Wuhan, China, according to the Chinese National Health Commission.

The latest: The U.S. Embassy in Beijing announced plans to evacuate its Wuhan consulate personnel and some private citizens on a limited-capacity charter flight from the city to San Francisco on Tuesday, per AP, which reports that those "at greater risk from coronavirus" would be prioritized over others.

Go deeperArrowJan 20, 2020 - World