“I am proud to be associated with so many players who make such tremendous contributions in positively impacting our communities.”
President Donald Trump came under fire after he ripped NFL players and encouraged the owners to fire athletes who protest during the U.S. national anthem.
Following Trump’s comments, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, one of his biggest supporters in the league, released a statement saying he was “deeply disappointed” by the tone of president’s comments.
“I am deeply disappointed by the tone of the comments made by the president on Friday. I am proud to be associated with so many players who make such tremendous contributions in positively impacting our communities. Their efforts, both on and off the field, help bring people together and make our community stronger,” Kraft said.
When asked to respond to Kraft’s statement, Trump chose to flick back his hair with his middle finger, hence appearing to flip the bird.
“He has to take his ideas and go with what he wants. I think it's very disrespectful to our country. I think it's very disrespectful to our flag. I like Bob [Kraft] very much. He gave me a football ring, I want him to do what he wants to do. We have great country with great people [that] should be treated with respect,” said Trump.
The commander-in-chief made the comments at Morristown Municipal Airport before boarding Air Force One to head back to Washington, D.C., after a weekend in Bedminster.
The New England Patriots reportedly donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration celebrations. Kraft also gave Trump the Super Bowl ring during a dinner with the president after winning the game.
The president got into a bitter spat with the NFL after he said during a speech in Alabama that any protesting football player was a “son of a b****” and should lose his job.
“Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b**** off the field right now... he is fired,’” Trump said.
The president was referring to a string of protests, initiated by NFL player Colin Kaepernick, of kneeling when the national anthem played to protest the brutality and violence black people face at the hands of the police.
However, instead of putting a stop to the practice, Trump (unknowingly) injected new life into the movement. Bruce Maxwell became the first Major League Baseball player to take a knee during the national anthem. Maxwell, whose father is in the military, said he knelt for “people that don’t have a voice.”
During a concert the same night in New York City, Stevie Wonder also knelt down in a show of solidarity with Kaepernick.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell never mentioned the president by name, but made a clear reference to his remarks at a political rally.
“The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture. There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we've experienced over the last month,” said Goodell.
He further said, “Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.”
Thumbnail Credits: Reuters, Joshua Roberts