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NFL players recommend pardons to Trump

NFL players recommend pardons to Trump
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NFL players are calling on President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts MORE to issue a blanket pardon for nonviolent drug crimes in response to Trump's request for pardon recommendations from players protesting during the anthem

Four NFL players — Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin, former San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin, safety for the Philadelphia Eagles Malcolm Jenkins and New Orleans Saints tight end Benjamin Watson — made the request in an op-ed for The New York Times.

"[People] should not be given de facto life sentences for nonviolent drug crimes in the first place. The president could stop that from happening by issuing a blanket pardon for people in that situation who have already served long sentences," the players write in their piece. 

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"Of the roughly 185,000 people locked up in federal prisons, about 79,000 are there for drug offenses of some kind — and 13.5 percent of them have sentences of 20 years or more," the players continue. "Imagine how many more Alice Johnsons the president could pardon if he treated the issue like the systemic problem it is, rather than asking professional football players for a few cases.

In the piece, the players also call on Trump to eliminate life without parole for nonviolent offenses and to release drug offenders over the age of 60 whose convictions are not recent.

"That would be the morally right thing to do," the players write.

Trump has issued a number of pardons since taking office, many of which came at the urgings of high-profile figures and celebrities. Most recently, he commuted the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, a 65-year-old woman who was serving a life sentence for a nonviolent drug offense, after meeting with reality TV star Kim Kardashian West about her case.

Trump later offered to address the concerns of NFL players kneeling in protest during the national anthem, saying they should recommend pardons to him.

“I am going to ask all of those people to recommend to me — because that’s what they’re protesting — people that they think were unfairly treated by the justice system,” Trump said earlier in June. 

Athletes started kneeling during the anthem in 2016 to protest racial inequality and police brutality.  

Trump has been highly critical of the protests, calling it disrespectful to the country. Earlier this month, he disinvited the Super Bowl champions the Philadelphia Eagles from the White House over their differing stances on the protests.

In their article on Thursday, the players say they weren't elected to call for these pardons or to make such recommendations but were doing so to "fight for what we believe is right."

"We are citizens who embrace the values of empathy, integrity and justice, and we will fight for what we believe is right. We weren’t elected to do this," the players write. "We do it because we love this country, our communities and the people in them. This is our America, our right.