President Trump weighed in on NFL player protests Sunday afternoon with a tweet that said that locked arms are “good” but kneeling “is not acceptable.”
Great solidarity for our National Anthem and for our Country. Standing with locked arms is good, kneeling is not acceptable. Bad ratings!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
Later in the afternoon, Trump tweeted:
Courageous Patriots have fought and died for our great American Flag --- we MUST honor and respect it! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
Trump earlier Sunday resumed his attacks on the NFL, demanding the league “fire or suspend” players who refused to stand during the national anthem
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
Sports fans should never condone players that do not stand proud for their National Anthem or their Country. NFL should change policy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
Trump’s most recent comments mark the latest in an escalating back-and-forth with the NFL over player protests during the national anthem. It began when Trump ripped into players in a speech in Alabama Friday night, saying, ‘‘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.’ ”
The league commissioner, Roger Goodell, fired back in a statement Saturday, saying, “Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players.”
DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL player’s association, responded to the president, saying “We will never back down. We no longer can afford to stick to sports.’’ Many individual players also responded to Trump over Twitter.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, then of the San Francisco 49ers, began protesting the national anthem in 2016, stirring controversy throughout the league. A number of other players joined the protests over the year.
Kaepernick became a free agent and was not signed by any NFL team this season.
The back-and-forth wasn’t the only sports-related controversy for Trump this weekend. The president also publicly disinvited NBA star Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors from the White House for his team’s traditional championship visit. The move caused instant backlash from NBA players, including stars like LeBron James, Chris Paul, and Draymond Green.