Donald Trump Threatens to Cut NFL Tax Breaks If Players Continue to Kneel for National Anthem

The president also took aim at ESPN anchor Jemele Hill, after the network suspended her for calling Trump a "white supremacist" on Twitter

President Donald Trump is threatening to take away tax breaks for the NFL amid the continued national anthem protests that have swept the sport.

“Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country?” he wrote early Tuesday morning. “Change tax law!”

The NFL voluntarily gave up its tax-exempt status in 2015, according to Politico. However, taxpayer dollars are used for new stadiums and facilities.

The president also took aim at ESPN anchor Jemele Hill, after the network suspended her for calling for a boycott of Dallas Cowboys sponsors over owner Jerry Jones’ decision to punish players who don’t stand for the anthem.

“With Jemele Hill at the mike, it is no wonder ESPN ratings have ‘tanked,’ in fact, tanked so badly it is the talk of the industry!” Trump said.

On Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence walked out of an Indianapolis Colts game against the San Francisco 49ers after players knelt during the national anthem.

“I left today’s Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem,” the vice president wrote.

“At a time when so many Americans are inspiring our nation with their courage, resolve, and resilience…now, more than ever, we should rally around our Flag and everything that unites us,” he continued. “While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I don’t think it’s too much to ask NFL players to respect the Flag and our National Anthem.”

President Trump revealed that he had told Pence to leave the game if any players knelt during the national anthem.

During a rally speech in Alabama last month, Trump stated, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out, you’re fired.’ ”

He followed the comment up by pouring more gasoline on the fire with a series of tweets. “If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL, or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect…our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem,” he wrote. “If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!”

In the weeks since, multiple NFL teams have made statements by kneeling, locking arms or staying in the locker room during the playing of the anthem as a message of protest against Trump’s comments.

In August 2016, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick made headlines — and sparked a movement — when he took a knee during the national anthem.

“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.”

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