Trump: NFL owners should tell players who kneel to "get that son of a bitch off the field right now." pic.twitter.com/eUYtJgNixK— Philip Lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) September 23, 2017
At a rally in Huntsville, Ala., stumping for Luther Strange’s senatorial campaign, President Donald Trump spoke at length about the protests and declining ratings happening in the NFL.
Regarding protests taking place during the "Star Spangled Banner," Trump suggested that the players protesting before the game be removed from the field. Specifically, Trump referred to the protesters, most of which are black men, as ‘that son of a bitch.’ The President then doubled down and said team owners should fire the protesters and would gain notoriety for doing so.
The speech lasted around an hour and 20 minutes. Here are his full comments on the protests:
“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, out, he’s fired!’ You nkow, some owner is going to do that. He’s gonna say, ‘That guy disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it. They don’t know it. They’re friends of mine, many of them. They don’t know it. They’ll be the most popular person, for a week. They’ll be the most popular person in the country."
Various players this season, including Michael Bennett, Malcolm Jenkins, and several Cleveland Browns have sat, kneeled in prayer or raised their fist during the anthem to protest the unfair treatment of people of color by the police and the country’s systemic injustices.
Trump then transitioned to the topic of player safety and rule changes in the league, only a day after researchers at Boston University found that Aaron Hernandez had one of the most severe forms of CTE.
“When the NFL ratings are down massively, massively. The NFL ratings are down massively. Now the number one reason happens to be they like watching what’s happening ... with yours truly. They like what’s happening. Because you know today if you hit too hard: fifteen yards. Throw him out of the game. They had that last week. I watched for a couple of minutes. Tow guys, just really beautiful tackle. Boom, 15 yards. The referee gets on television, his wife is sitting at home, she’s so proud of him. They’re ruining the game! They’re ruining the game. That’s what they want to do. They want to hit. They want to hit. It is hurting the game.”
During his speech on Friday night, he also told the Alabama crowd, "We're going to be like your football teams, we're going to win all the time."
NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith responded on Saturday morning.
We will never back down. We no longer can afford to stick to sports. pic.twitter.com/Ec3Bc4qt9h— DeMaurice Smith (@DeSmithNFLPA) September 23, 2017
Will Goodell or the other owners respond to Trump’s attack on their business? We’ll see.