Continuing his attack on NFL players who choose not to stand during the national anthem for the third day in a row, President Trump on Sunday said teams should punish players who protest and suggested that fans should boycott the league.
"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!" Trump tweeted just hours before the start of Sunday's NFL games as likely more players kneel to protest racial injustice.
Trump also said players' kneeling down during the anthem is hurting the league.
"...NFL attendance and ratings are WAY DOWN. Boring games yes, but many stay away because they love our country. League should back U.S."
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
At a rally Friday night in Alabama, Trump lashed out at NFL players who choose not to stand for 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 b---- off the field right now. Out. He's fired. He's fired!"
Many NFL players were quick to condemn Trump's remarks on social media on Friday night and Saturday, and some teams did as well. New York Giants co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch, Green Bay Packers president Mark Murphy and San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York were among the team executives who decried Trump's remarks as "offensive."
Patriots CEO Robert Kraft, a friend of Trump's, issued as statement Sunday morning saying he was "deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the President on Friday. I am proud to be associated with so many players who make such tremendous contributions in positively impacting our communities."
Trump tweeted Saturday afternoon, "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 Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a statement Saturday that called the remarks "divisive," though Trump was not mentioned by name.
"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," Goodell said in the statement.
That prompted a testy response from Trump.
"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!"