Trump Profanely Implores NFL Owners to ‘Fire’ Players Protesting National Anthem
President Trump appeared at a campaign rally in Huntsville, Ala., on Friday night, ostensibly to support the senatorial bid of fellow Republican Luther Strange. But the speech veered off topic, eventually landing on a few points regarding the NFL.
Without mentioning him by name, Trump made reference to Colin Kaepernick and the protests against injustice toward African Americans the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback led last NFL season by taking a knee during the national anthem.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners,” wondered the president, “when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’ ” The hypothetical was met with cheers from the assembled crowd.
Trump also said such an owner would “be the most popular person in this country. Because that’s a total disrespect of our heritage. That’s a total disrespect for everything we stand for.” He added that if fans were to “leave the stadium” in response to a protest, “I guarantee things will stop.”
Continuing with the NFL, Trump also discussed the league’s television ratings, saying they are down “massively,” and partially claiming credit for the drop.
“Now the No. 1 reason happens to be, they like watching what’s happening with yours truly,” he said. He also added that the amount of big hits called as penalties are a factor as well.
“Today, if you hit too hard, 15 yards, throw him out of the game,” he said while mimicking the act of an official throwing a penalty flag. “They’re ruining the game, right? They’re ruining the game. It’s hurting the game.”
Trump’s comments on how the game is being ruined by an attempt to cut down on big hits came a day after former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was diagnosed posthumously with the second-most-severe form of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Hernandez committed suicide in April while serving a life sentence for murder.
Trump’s remarks regarding national anthem protests also spurred a reaction on social media, from both players and observers.