Trump Suggests NFL Players Who Kneel “Shouldn’t Be in the Country”

“You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn’t be playing. You shouldn’t be there.”

NFL owners on Wednesday unveiled a new policy to fine teams whose players choose not to stand for the national anthem. If players want to protest the national anthem, they will have the option to do so in the locker room, away from cameras.

That wasn’t good enough for President Donald Trump. On Thursday, he went one step further, suggesting protesting players “shouldn’t be in the country.”

“I don’t think people should be staying in locker rooms, but still I think it’s good,” Trump told Fox & Friends during an interview Thursday morning. He continued, “You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn’t be playing. You shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.” 

The league’s decision comes as a significant concession to Trump, who has repeatedly blasted kneeling players as unpatriotic. During a political rally in September, the president asked supporters, “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’?” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell called the remarks “divisive.” 

The movement to protest police brutality and racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem first started in 2016 with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick has been without a team since the 2016 season.

The new policy has attracted mixed reactions, with some athletes expressing anger with league owners for approving the decision without the input of the players’ union. Many are also portraying the announcement as a missed opportunity to support its majority African American workforce.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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