President Donald J. Trump held nothing back when he unloaded on the National Football League during a speech in Alabama Friday night, in which he endorsed incumbent U.S. Sen. Luther Strange who is in a tough GOP reelection primary against insurgent candidate Judge Roy Moore.
Trump was particularly miffed about NFL players who are “disrespecting” the country by refusing to stand for the National Anthem, a form of protest against alleged racial and social injustice that was started early last season by then-San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
As reported by the U.K.’s Daily Mail, during the political rally Trump said fans should boycott the NFL teams that allow their players to kneel or sit during the anthem in protest. He then said:
Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b**ch off the field right now! He’s fired! He’s fired!
In response, the crowd responded, “USA! USA!”
Trump — who at one time was the owner of the New Jersey Generals of the long-defunct United States Football League — went on to say that the NFL has changed, that it’s “not the same game anymore” after a series of rule changes that, among other things, penalize aggressive tackles.
“They are ruining the game, right? They are ruining the game,” he said, adding that players on the field “want to hit.”
The president then circled back to protests over the anthem and unloaded.
“But 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,” he said.
“The only thing you could do better is if you see it — even if it’s one player — leave the stadium. I guarantee things will stop. Things will stop.” (Related: TV executives in denial over drop in NFL viewership.)
That may be true, but as The National Sentinel reports, tickets for NFL games can be quite expensive, into the hundreds of dollars per seat. That said, a better strategy — one that is less costly — would be to simply not buy a ticket in the first place, which is already happening.
As for team-owner reaction to the protests, which have only widened this season, Trump predicted that it is only a matter of time before players are benched for their behavior, or cut from teams entirely.
“You know, some owner is going to do that. He is going to say, ‘That guy disrespects our flag, he’s fired,” said the president.
“That owner, they don’t know it — they are friends of mine — they don’t know, they are going to be the most popular person, for a week. They will be the most popular person in this country,” he continued.
“Because that’s a total disrespect of our heritage, that’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for,” he added.
Yes, players have a right to protest, Trump acknowledged, but owners have a right to have economically viable teams and players who aren’t trying to destroy the league. And, he added further, fans have a right to vote with their wallets and feet.
“I know that we have freedoms,” said Trump. “And we have freedom of choice. And many, many different freedoms.”
As noted by the Daily Mail, the protests are spreading to football beyond the NFL. The paper included a photo of a St. Louis-based team of eight-year-old players whose coaches made them kneel during the National Anthem — which proves such behavior is taught, not inherited.
As for the man who started it all, Kaepernick left the 49ers by opting out of his contract at the end of last season before he was cut; he hasn’t managed to land on a team this season. Kaepernick said he began his protests as a way of opposing “a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
Many NFL players took to social media to hit back at Trump, with some telling him to stay out of it. But without question, the protests are political in nature and so, as president, arguably more in Trump’s wheelhouse than the players themselves.
J.D. Heyes is a senior writer for NaturalNews.com and NewsTarget.com, as well as editor of The National Sentinel.