Trump on National Football League protesters: 'Maybe you shouldn't be in the country'

Geraldine Edwards
May 25, 2018

Under the new policy, billed as a "compromise", a team faces league fines if players or others fail to stand and show respect for the flag during the National Anthem.

"You have to stand proudly for the national anthem and the NFL owners did the right thing with that if that's what they've done", Trump told "Fox & Friends'" Brian Kilmeade in an interview aired Thursday.

NAACP President and Chief Executive Officer Derrick Johnson called on the league to rescind the policy and said team owners must not "fold" to the Trump administration by denying players the ability to raise questions around aggressive policing. "But still, I think it's good", Trump beamed in the interview, taped previous afternoon while Trump attended an anti-immigration event in NY. Add Donald Trump as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Donald Trump news, video, and analysis from ABC News.

"It's an issue that is very divisive, (for) people on both sides of it", Mara said on the radio with host Alex Marvez.

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That decision was immediately slammed by the NFL Players' Association.

Much like the reaction when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sat and later kneeled during the national anthem in 2016, the response to the NFL's new anthem policy has been passionate and split down the middle. "Maybe they shouldn't be in the country", Trump said.

National Football League stars joined Kaepernick later that season, seizing the opportunity during the "Star-Spangled Banner" to kneel and bring attention to social justice issues. It was taped Wednesday outside of New York City on Long Island, where Trump had overseen his "forum" on the gang MS-13, another phenomenon Trump is cynically exploiting for political gain.

DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the National Football League players' union, tweeted that owners had "chosen to quash the same freedom of speech that protects someone who wants to salute the flag in an effort to prevent someone who does not wish to do so".

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"We've been supportive of those in the past who have chose to protest", Mara told Sirius XM, "but I think we've gotten to a point now where it's become such a divisive issue that I think it's important that we come out of here with a policy that everybody can respect and adhere to".

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Wednesday that all players and NFL team personnel "shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem" during the upcoming season.

For tactical reasons, I'm not a big fan of kneeling during the national anthem as a form of protest.

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