On Friday at a rally for Alabama Republican Senate candidate Luther Strange, Donald Trump said he thought NFL team owners should fire players who protest standing for the national anthem by taking a knee or sitting down.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ‘Get that son of a b—h off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,” Trump said.
“For a week, [that owner would] be the most popular person in this country. Because that’s a total disrespect of our heritage,” Trump continued. “That’s a total disrespect for everything we stand for.”
He added that if offended fans would “leave the stadium” when players protested that “I guarantee, things will stop.”
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On Saturday morning, NFL commissioner Roger Goodman, responded to Trump’s comments.
“The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture,” Goodman said. “There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we’ve experienced over the last month.
“Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities,” he said.
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said at the time. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
In August of this year, Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch started his first game since coming out of retirement by sitting on top of an orange cooler while the national anthem was being played.
While Lynch did not speak about his decision not to stand, Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said he spoke with the running back.
“Talked to Marshawn. Wanted to make sure we’re on the same page,” Del Rio told reporters, according to The Mercury News. “He said, ‘This is something I’ve done for 11 years. It’s not a form of anything other than me being myself.’
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Although Trump has made it clear he thinks NFL players refusing to stand for the national anthem is a totally disrespectful, the president has failed to issue similar comments against white supremacists.
At a rally in August after the violent white supremacist rally that left a woman dead in Charlottesville, Virginia, Trump praised the “very fine people on both sides,” adding that within the demonstrators supporting the white supremacist rally, “you had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest and very legally protest.”