Trump Says NFL Should Fire Kneelers
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — President Donald Trump has some advice for National Football League owners: Fire players who kneel during the national anthem. He’s also encouraging fans to walk out in protest.
And the president is bemoaning what he describes as a decline in violence in the sport.
“They’re ruining the game,” he said during a political rally in Alabama on Friday night that veered beyond politics.
Several athletes, including a handful of NFL players, have refused to stand during “The Star-Spangled Banner” to protest of the treatment of blacks by police. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started the trend last year when he played for the San Francisco 49ers, hasn’t been signed by an NFL team for this season.
Trump, who once owned the New Jersey Generals of the U.S. Football League, says those players are disrespecting the American flag and deserve to lose their jobs.
“That’s a total disrespect of our heritage. That’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for,” Trump said, encouraging owners to act.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ’Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,” Trump said to loud applause.
rump also predicted that any owner who followed the presidential encouragement would become “the most popular person in this country” — at least for a week.
Trump, who was in Alabama campaigning for Sen. Luther Strange, also blamed a drop in NFL ratings on the nation’s interest in “yours truly” as well as what he contended was a decline in violence in the game.
He said players are being thrown out for aggressive tackles, and it’s “not the same game.”
Over the past several seasons, the NFL and college football have increased penalties and enforcement for illegal hits to the head and for hitting defenseless players. A July report on 202 former football players found evidence of a debilitating brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them. The league has agreed to pay $1 billion to retired players who claimed it misled them about the concussion dangers of playing football.