President Donald Trump has once again taken to Twitter to demand that National Football League (NFL) owners and managers “fire or suspend” players who choose to take the knee in protest while the American national anthem is being sung.
Trump also urged NFL fans to boycott games if officials are tardy in their response to his demands. According to Trump, staging a boycott will ensure that disciplinary action against protesting players would “take place fast.”
The president’s comments – which some have called “divisive” – first came during a rally in Alabama on Friday night. Trump has been on a rant for three days since his initial comments about players who kneel before an NFL game to protest police violence against minorities.
At one point during the rally on Friday night, Trump even went so far as to urge NFL coaches to get “[the] son of a b***h” fired if they refused to stand during the signing of 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***h off the field right now. He is fired!”
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
Star NFL player Colin Kaepernick initiated a national movement last year when he decided to kneel in protest during the national anthem. Despite Kaepernick’s intentions to bring to the fore issues concerning the treatment of black Americans and other minorities, the backlash from members of the public has been harsh.
Kaepernick was once one of the league’s most sought-after players, but after leading his former team – the San Francisco 49ers – all the way to the 2013 Super Bowl, his ranking slipped fast. Ever since, Kaepernick has not been able to secure a contract as a quarterback.
Nevertheless, Jed York, the CEO of the San Francisco 49ers, has come out swinging against Trump’s controversial comments. York has pledged to support his players, no matter what.
“The callous and offensive comments made by the President are contradictory to what this great country stands for.”
On Saturday, Trump doubled down on his call for the NFL to reprimand players for showing “total disrespect” for the country.
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
Meanwhile, Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, released a statement saying “divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect.”
According to the NFL Players’ Association, “the president had crossed a line by effectively telling players to just ‘shut up and play,'” adding that Trump’s comments are “a slap in the face to the civil rights heroes of the past and present.”
The coming week’s NFL games kick off today, and more players are expected to take a knee in protest, especially after Trump’s comments.
[Featured Image by Susan Walsh/AP Images]