Donald Trump says NFL franchise owners acknowledge that they need to stop players from kneeling for the National Anthem, but they’re too scared to take action.
‘I have so many friends that are owners, and they are in a big box,’ he said in a ‘Fox & Friends’ interview that aired Thursday morning.
‘I have spoken to a couple of them. They say, “We are in a situation where we have to do something.” I think they are afraid of their players, you want to know the truth. And I think it’s disgraceful.’
Last weekend’s games say more than 150 players kneeling or sitting during pre-game performances of the National Anthem. All eyes will be on Green Bay, Wisconsin on Thursday night as the Chicago Bears come to town.
Trump warned Wednesday that in the absence of a hard line against protesting players, NFL owners’ businesses are ‘going to go to hell.’
He said in the new interview that they should act out of self-preservation before their businesses are affected even more than they have been already.
President Donald Trump told Fox News before his tax address on Wednesday that NFL owners are too scared of their players to insist that they stand during the National Anthem
Buffalo Bills players, along with more than 150 throughout the NFL, knelt during the National Anthem prior to their game against the Denver Broncos on Sunday; team owner Terry Pegula is shown at right
Several Cleveland Browns players joined in the take-a-knee protest trend on Sunday, and suggered no consequences from team owner Jimmy Haslam
‘They have got to be smart, because you look at the ratings. The ratings have gone way down,’ he said. Nielsen reported an 11 per cent dropoff in TV ratings this year, compared with the 2016 season.
‘The stadiums are – I’ve seen a couple of stadiums over the last few weeks. They are losing – there are a lot of empty seats. I couldn’t even believe it,’ Trump said.
The president added that the owners themselves – not just their star athletes – show a lack of respect for the United States by refusing to enforce a rule that requires players to stand.
The NFL’s game operations manual states that ‘the National Anthem must be played prior to every NFL game, and all players must be on the sideline for the National Anthem.’
A handful of Washington Redskins players took a knee before Sunday night’s game against the Oakland Raiders; Team owner Daniel Snyder (right) stood and linked arms with other players during the National Anthem
Trump told ‘Fox & Friends’ that NFL team owners are ‘in a box’ and acknowledge that they should do something to rein in the protests
Trump says Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has promised him that his entire team will stand for the National Anthem before its NFL games, but other owners are too frightened to act
‘During the National Anthem, players on the field and bench area should stand at attention, face the flag, hold helmets in their left hand, and refrain from talking.’
Trump was unapologetic about his new attack on his fellow billionaires who own NFL teams.
‘They’re disrespecting. And when I say “they,” in a way it is “they” because they can stop it,’ he said.
‘You know, they have rules for everything. You can’t dance in the end zone, you can’t wear the pink socks relative to breast cancer, which one of the players – they have rules for everything. Why aren’t they honoring this country by enforcing a rule that’s been in existence for a long time?’
The president has stoked the fires of the NFL controversy nearly every day since he told an Alabama rally crowd last Friday that protesting players should be fired
Trump said Wednesday as he left the White House for Indiana that the NFL owners’ businesses are ‘going to go to hell’ unless they act
Colin Kaepernick, pictured kneeling during an October 2016 game against the Buffalo Bills, inaugurated the trend of kneeling during the national anthem as a protest against police brutality and social injustice. Team owner and CEO Jed York is shown at right
‘The NFL cannot disrespect our country. They cannot respect our flag or our National Anthem. And they can’t have people sitting down or kneeling down during our National Anthem,’ he added.
The take-a-knee protests, meant to highlight what black activists see as racist treatment at the hands of American police officers, was started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in September 2016.
‘I saw this a year ago with Kaepernick, and I said, “This is a terrible thing.” I thought it was terrible.’
Trump tweeted Wednesday that at least one NFL team owner has assured him that his players will stand for the National Anthem before its games.
‘Spoke to Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys yesterday. Jerry is a winner who knows how to get things done. Players will stand for Country!’ the president wrote.
Jones knelt along with head coach Jason Garrett and all their players in the middle of the field on Monday night in a show of unity before they all stood for the anthem before their 28-17 win over the Arizona Cardinals.
Jones, 74, in the past has criticized NFL players who kneel during the song itself. But taking a knee beforehand drew some booing from spectators. The Cardinals did not kneel but, like the Cowboys, all linked arms.
Other NFL team owners have supported their players who chose to kneel in protest of racism in America. Some owners explicitly criticized Donald Trump for his denunciation.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell also strongly backed the players and criticized Trump for ‘an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL.’
The president launched the national controversy with remarks last Friday during a speech in Alabama.
‘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”,’ he said to cheers.’
On Saturday, Trump echoed his stance.
‘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,’ he tweeted. ‘If not, YOU’RE FIRED. Find something else to do!’