At a rally Friday night for Alabama senate candidate Luther Strange, President Trump slammed sports players who kneel during the national anthem, saying it was disrespectful, and sports team owners are firing back in disapproval of his remarks.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b—- off the field right now, out, he’s fired!’” Trump said, as the audience responded in approving cheers.
“You know, some owner’s going to do that. He’s going to say, ‘that guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner will be the most popular person for a week. Because that’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for,” Trump said.
So far, the owners are not responding in agreement.
Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross tweeted out a statement chiding President Trump for his criticism about NFL players who kneel during the national anthem, and said the country needs “unifying leadership… not more divisiveness.”
Four Miami Dolphins players knelt in “prayer” during the national anthem last NFL season, before several games.
“Our country needs unifying leadership right now, not more divisiveness,” Ross said in his statement on Saturday. “We need to seek to understand each other and have civil discourse instead of condemnation and sound bites. I know our players who kneeled for the anthem and these are smart young men of character who want to make our world a better place for everyone. They wanted to start a conversation and are making a difference in our community, including working with law enforcement to bring people together.”
Statement from Miami Dolphins Owner and Founder of Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) Stephen Ross. pic.twitter.com/6W3mXwJO6M
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) September 23, 2017
San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York spoke out against President Trump for his “callous and offensive comments”, as he tweeted out the following statement Saturday afternoon:
“The callous and offensive comments made by the President are contradictory to what this great country stands for. Our players have exercised their rights as United States citizens to spark conversation and action to address social injustice. We will continue to support them in their peaceful pursuit of positive change in our country and around the world. The San Francisco 49ers will continue to work toward bringing communities, and those who serve them, closer together.”
— Jed York (@JedYork) September 23, 2017
Green Bay Packers CEO Mark Murphy posted the following statement on the team’s website:
“It’s unfortunate that the President decided to use his immense platform to make divisive and offensive statements about our players and the NFL. We strongly believe that players are leaders in our communities and positive influences. They have achieved their positions through tremendous work and dedication and should be celebrated for their success and positive impact. We believe it is important to support any of our players who choose to peacefully express themselves with the hope of change for good. As Americans, we are fortunate to be able to speak openly and freely.”
Seattle Seahawks player Richard Sherman also posted a statement on Twitter in a slam against Trump. “The behavior of the President is unacceptable and needs to be addressed. If you do not Condemn this divisive Rhetoric you are Condoning it!!” Sherman stated.
The behavior of the President is unacceptable and needs to be addressed. If you do not Condemn this divisive Rhetoric you are Condoning it!!
— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) September 23, 2017
The NFL Players Association and the National Football League, along with many players themselves, started the backlash early Saturday morning, all coming out in opposition to the President for his statement.
President Trump fired back directly to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, tweeting, “Roger Goodell of NFL just put out a statement trying to justify the total disrespect certain players show to our country.Tell them to stand!”
Roger Goodell of NFL just put out a statement trying to justify the total disrespect certain players show to our country.Tell them to stand!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
President Trump also re-emphasized his point in a two-part Twitter message Saturday afternoon, stating, “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!”
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Trump Tweets: Doubles down on disrespect in sports