Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson criticized the way President Trump has handled protests and criticism by professional athletes, saying the players just want “to be heard.”
“When the players are kneeling as a last resort, as a desire to be heard, clearly they’re not being heard. It’s an opportunity for our leaders, our president and his staff, to hear them, truly hear them, and not be angry,” the actor and former wrestler told InStyle Magazine in an interview published Friday.
Johnson specifically referenced basketball player Stephen Curry, who was singled out for criticism by Trump in September after Curry indicated he didn't want to visit the White House.
“Steph is a very good buddy of mine—I know him and his family. And at the time when he declined the offer, I felt like it was our president’s perfect opportunity to say, ‘Now you must come to the White House and sit down with me, and I must hear you and understand you,’” Johnson said.
“What we’re in need of is a greater leadership that’s inclusive and truly hears the people and doesn’t have a knee-jerk reaction out of anger,” he continued. “Scenarios like this, while divisive, also clarify what we really want in the future. And we’ll have a chance in a few years to cast another vote, and we’ll see where the American people are when that time comes.”
Johnson also confirmed that he’s still considering getting into politics himself. Johnson’s popularity has made him a frequent suggestion — and "Saturday Night Live" joke — as a wild card pick for presidential candidate.
“Where we’re at right now is just quietly observing everything happening on the political landscape, and when the next election comes along ... I will be watching very intently,” he said in the interview.
Trump has feuded with athletes throughout the current NFL season, after suggesting games should be boycotted if players continue to kneel rather than stand during the national anthem. In his most recent comments, the president slammed “disrespect” by the league this week.
Players have responded to Trump’s criticism with solidarity, linking arms or kneeling in groups during the anthem. The NFL has refused to implement a rule about standing. Players in other leagues, including baseball and hockey, have also joined the protests with similar symbolic acts.