HUNTSVILLE, ALABAMA – President Donald J. Trump Friday called for NFL owners to fire players who kneel during the National Anthem, and is taking some blowback for his remarks.
At a campaign rally to help a Republican Senator get re-elected, Trump weighed in on a touchy subject – NFL players who take a knee during the National Anthem as a form of protest. He said “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. He is fired. He’s fired!'”
Trump kept going. He said “Total disrespect of our heritage, a total disrespect of everything that we stand for. Everything that we stand for. They are ruining the game, right? They are ruining the game. Look, that’s what they want to do. They want to hit. They want to hit. You know what’s hurting the game more than that? When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they are playing our great national anthem.”
In response, the NFL released a statement:
President Donald Trump, while speaking at a political rally Friday, said NFL fans should boycott games and team owners should fire players who fail to stand for the national anthem prior to games.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith both released statements early Saturday responding to the president’s comments.
And throughout Saturday, NFL owners and CEOs responded as well, releasing statements disagreeing with President Trump’s remarks.
New York Giants owners John Mara and Steve Tisch:
“Comments like we heard last night from the president are inappropriate, offensive and divisive. We are proud of our players, the vast majority of whom use their NFL platform to make a positive difference in our society.”
Miami Dolphins owner and founder of Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) Stephen Ross:
“Our country needs unifying leadership right now, not more divisiveness. We need to seek to understand each other and have civil discourse instead of condemnation and sound bites. I know our players who kneeled for the anthem and these are smart young men of character who want to make our world a better place for everyone. They wanted to start a conversation and are making a difference in our community, including working with law enforcement to bring people together. We all can benefit from learning, listening and respecting each other. Sports is a common denominator in our world. We all have the responsibility to use this platform to promote understanding, respect and equality.”
San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York:
“The callous and offensive comments made by the president are contradictory to what this great country stands for. Our players have exercised their rights as United States citizens in order to spark conversation and action to address social injustice. We will continue to support them in their peaceful pursuit of positive change in our country and around the world. The San Francisco 49ers will continue to work toward bringing communities, and those who serve them, closer together.”
Green Bay Packers Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy:
“It’s unfortunate that the president decided to use his immense platform to make divisive and offensive statements about our players and the NFL. We strongly believe that players are leaders in our communities and positive influences. They have achieved their positions through tremendous work and dedication and should be celebrated for their success and positive impact. We believe it is important to support any of our players who choose to peacefully express themselves with the hope of change for good. As Americans, we are fortunate to be able to speak openly and freely.”
Atlanta Falcons Owner and Chairman Arthur Blank:
“We are at our very best when we are working together, building unity and including everyone’s voice in a constructive dialogue. Creating division or demonizing viewpoints that are different than our own accomplishes nothing positive and undermines our collective ability to achieve the ideals of our democracy. The NFL has historically been a strong catalyst for positive change and I’m proud of the way our players, coaches and staff use that platform to give back to our community and strive to be good citizens making a positive impact on this and future generations.”
Tennessee Titans Controlling Owner Amy Adams Strunk:
“I am proud to stand with our players and support them in their work on and off the football field. I completely agree with Commissioner Goodell that we are better off as a nation when we are unified and pulling together. I have seen that kind of attitude first-hand in Tennessee and across our country in the many benevolent and public-spirited efforts of our NFL players, often without any public recognition.
“Our players make public contributions day-in and day-out and when I hear anyone making disparaging remarks about them, I know it has to be the result of not knowing what they bring to our communities or what they have accomplished.”
Los Angeles Chargers Owner/Chairman of the Board Dean Spanos:
“I wholeheartedly agree with the commissioner’s statement. The NFL and its players, more than anything, have been a force for good. What our country needs right now is a message of unity, civility and mutual respect.”
Philadelphia Eagles Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie:
“The best of us lend our compassion and determination to the aid of others.
“Every day I see the genuine dedication and hard work of our players. And I support them as they take their courage, character and commitment into our communities to make them better or to call attention to injustice. Having spoken with our players, I can attest to the great respect they have for the national anthem and all it represents. We at the Philadelphia Eagles firmly believe that in this difficult time of division and conflict, it is more important than ever for football to be a great unifier.”
Denver Broncos President/CEO Joe Ellis:
“Our players have shown a tremendous commitment to raising awareness for important societal issues by using their platform in a positive way.
“In addition to their hard work off the field, we have great admiration for their dedication to making our team the absolute best it can be. They’ve made incredible sacrifices to reach this level, and we recognize they give their all to our team and fans each and every day.
“As an organization, we could not be more proud, appreciative and grateful for our players. We’ll continue to support them and work together to advocate for values of respect, diversity and inclusion.”
Buffalo Bills Owners Terry and Kim Pegula:
“Several of us met tonight — players, coaches, staff, and ownership. Our goal was to provide open dialogue and communication. We listened to one another. We believe it’s the best way to work through any issue we are facing — on and off the field.
“President Trump’s remarks were divisive and disrespectful to the entire NFL community, but we tried to use them as an opportunity to further unify our team and our organization.
“Our players have the freedom to express themselves in a respectful and thoughtful manner and we all agreed that our sole message is to provide and to promote an environment that is focused on love and equality.”
Indianapolis Colts Owner Jim Irsay:
“I am troubled by the president’s recent comments about our league and our players. Sports in America have the unique ability to bring people from all walks of life and from different points of view together to work toward or root for a common goal, and the Indianapolis Colts are proud to be a part of that tradition in our home city and state.
“The vast majority of players in the NFL — especially those who have worn and continue to wear the Horseshoe — have donated millions of dollars to charities, raised money for those affected by recent hurricanes, created charitable foundations, visited schools, mentored students, worked in homeless shelters, cleaned up parks, and put in hours of their personal time toward improving their communities and the lives of those around them.
“That’s the spirit in which this nation was founded, and we all need to work tirelessly to bring people together to take on the challenges that face us and give back to the people of our communities. More so than any result on the field, that is a common goal worth rooting for.”
Seattle Seahawks President Peter McLoughlin:
“We fully support our players’ use of their freedom of speech and peaceful action to highlight the existing racial and other divides in our country. Our players completely respect the military and veterans of our country; however, they believe these issues need to come to the forefront.”