SCHENECTADY, NY (WRGB)---Tonight, the talk surrounding Sunday night football has more to do with what happened before kick-off.
Governor Andrew Cuomo took a moment to blast President Donald Trump for his comments after NFL players from 28 teams participated in some form of protest over the weekend.
"He should be focused on Puerto Rico, priorities," Cuomo said.
Athletes have been protesting during the national anthem since last August when then-49ers quarterback Kolin Kaepernick took a knee to bring attention to the shootings of unarmed black men.
This weekend teams from across the league and their owners latched on, some refusing to come on the field for pre-game ceremonies after the president used his twitter account to call on owners to fire athletes who disrespected the flag.
Bradley Hays is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Union College.
“I think President Trump's comments exacerbated that trend. You saw those signs of unity, you saw more players kneel this past Sunday, from what we've seen in the past,” Hays said.
Hays says there's a reason the president is making these statements now.
“Trump has really tried to use sports to his advantage, trying to use sports to rally his base,” Hays said.
Hays says it has to do with Tuesday's primary election in Alabama, and the president's support of Sen. Luther Strange.
“He’s put his stamp of approval on this person, he's supported this person, there's a question of what that would mean for his base,” Hays said.
The bigger significance of all this, Hays says, could be in what lies ahead.
“This has provoked dialogue, and dialogue that can be very important,” Hays said.
Hays notes we've seen overlap between politics and sports since the 1950's particularly pertaining to race.
He says the scale of this particular protest has become notable.