Donald Trump fires another shot at NFL players after claiming those who disrespect the flag should be fired
US President Donald Trump has once again criticised NFL players who protest the national anthem claiming that if NFL players want the privilege of making millions of dollars, they should be forced to stand for the anthem.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick inspired a wave of protest last season when he routinely knelt during the Star Spangled Banner in protest of racial injustices and police brutality.
Kaepernick's movement has sustained its momentum this season through other high-profile NFL stars such as Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch and Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett, who both sit in protest during the anthem.
In response, Trump launched a scathing attack on all NFL players who kneel or sit during the anthem in an address he gave in Alabama on Friday night, where the President challenged the league’s owners to release any player who failed to stand during the anthem.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” the president said at a rally for Republican senator Luther Strange, who is running in a special election next week to remain in the seat vacated by attorney general Jeff Sessions.
“You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it [but] they’ll be the most popular person in this country.”
Trump followed up Friday's address with another attack on the league's players on Saturday suggesting that respecting the anthem should be part and parcel of an athlete's ability to make millions of dollars through sport.
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....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
...our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU'RE FIRED. Find something else to do!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
...NFL attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN. Boring games yes, but many stay away because they love our country. League should back U.S.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
Trump tweeted: "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. If not, YOU'RE FIRED. Find something else to do!"
NFL Players Association President Eric Winston said that he was 'extremely disappointed' in Trump's comments and that his remarks were a slap in the face to civil rights heroes both past and present.
“Our players are men who are great philanthropists, activists and community leaders who stand up for each other and their beliefs,” Winston wrote.
“I am extremely disappointed in the statements made by the President last night.
"The comments were a slap in the face to the civil rights heroes of the past and present, soldiers who have spilled blood in countless wars to uphold the values of this great nation and American people of all races, ethnicities, genders and sexual orientations who seek civil progress as a means to make this country, and this world, a better place.
“The divisiveness we are experiencing in this country has created gridlock in our political system, given voice to the extreme, fringe beliefs and paralyzed our progress as a nation.
"Divisiveness breeds divisiveness, but NFL players have proven to unify people in our country’s toughest moments and we will continue to do so now.
“We will not stop challenging others on how we can all come together to continue to make America the greatest country on earth.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also weighed in on the issue and said that Trump's comments were divisive and that they showed a lack of respect for the league.
"The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture.
"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."