President Donald Trump said in an interview Wednesday night that the National Football League (NFL) player protests of the national anthem would not be a “problem” if the NFL had originally suspended former San Fransisco 49ers quarterback Collin Kaepernick.
“I watched Colin Kaepernick and I thought it was terrible. And then it got bigger and bigger and started mushrooming. And frankly the NFL should have suspended him for one game and he would have never done it again,” Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity.
President Donald Trump began railing against the NFL protests — that is known in some circles as the #TakeTheKnee movement– in late September at a speech in Huntsville, Ala., where the president was campaigning for GOP Sen. Luther Strange.
“They could have then suspended him for two games and they could have suspended him again if he did it a third time, for the season, and you would never have had a problem,” Trump said. “But I will tell you – you cannot disrespect our country, our flag, our anthem, you cannot do that.”
“The only thing you could do better is if you see it, even if it’s one player, leave the stadium. I guarantee things will stop. Things will stop. Just pick up and leave. Pick up and leave. Not the same game anymore, anyway,” Trump told a group gathered in Huntsville on Sept. 22.
“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. He’s fired!'” the president said.
Trump tweeted a suggestion on Sept. 24 that “NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country.” NFL owners should “fire or suspend” players who kneel during the presentation of the national anthem, Trump also said.
The president tweeted on Sept. 25 that “the issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!”
NFL spokesman Joe Lockhart quickly retorted the president’s comments about players protesting the national anthem.
“Everyone should know, including the president, that this is what real locker room talk is,” Lockhart, a former spokesman for President Bill Clinton, said in a statement Monday.
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