President Trump says NFL players who engage in silent protests during the national anthem should be fired. Speaking at an Alabama rally for Republican Sen. Luther Strange late Friday, Trump 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’s fired.” Trump also urged fans to simply “leave the stadium” if players take a knee in protest, saying “things will stop” if the games are boycotted. The president’s comments, which seemed to be a veiled jab at Colin Kaepernick, the NFL quarterback whose national anthem protest last year kicked off a wave of debate over racism and police brutality, immediately drew backlash from the NFL. NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell issued a statement saying such “divisive comments” show a “failure to understand the overwhelming force for good” represented by NFL players, many of whom rushed to help Houston residents following Hurricane Harvey. The NFL Players Association also hit back, saying the union will “never back down” from supporting the players’ “constitutional right” to protest.
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