Trump Applauds NFL For Anthem Rule, Says Kneelers Shouldn't Be In the Country


President Donald Trump said the NFL “did the right thing” with its new policy that requires players to stand if they are on the field for the playing of the national anthem.

The new policy announced by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Wednesday, mandates that players who are on the sidelines for the playing of the national anthem must stand. However, the policy also gives the players who don’t want to stand the choice of staying in the locker room and not participating.

Goodell announced  the league would fine teams and league personnel who do not “stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.”

In an interview with “Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade that was conducted shortly after the new policy was announced, Trump said the new policy is a step in the right direction, and suggested those who don’t believe in standing “shouldn’t be in the country.”

“I don’t think people should be staying in the locker rooms, but still I think it’s good,” Trump said of the NFL’s new policy. “You have to stand proudly for the national anthem.”

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Trump said to those who want to kneel during the anthem, “You shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe they shouldn’t be in the country,” Trump said.

Trump was very vocal in his opposition to NFL players who opted to use the national anthem as a platform for protest and often criticized the league for not having the fortitude to discipline players who refused to stand.

Trump said he doesn’t feel personally responsible for pushing the league to update its policy, saying instead that the American people pushed the league to make the new rule.

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“I think the people pushed it forward, this was not me. I brought it out. I think the people pushed it forward,” Trump told Fox News. “This country is very smart. We have very smart people and that’s something ideally could have been taken care of when it first started. It would have been a lot easier.”

The NFL said Wednesday it will fine any team whose players are seen kneeling, sitting or otherwise not showing “appropriate respect” for the national anthem. On top of that, each team will have the capacity to fine players further for an anthem violation.

The new policy reportedly had the support of 24 of the league’s 32 team owners.

But Chris Johnson, CEO of the New York Jets, said his team would pay the fines for any players who want to protest.

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“I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players,” Johnson told Newsday. “Do I prefer that they stand? Of course. But I understand if they felt the need to protest. There are some big, complicated issues that we’re all struggling with, and our players are on the front lines. I don’t want to come down on them like a ton of bricks, and I won’t.

“If the team gets fined, that’s just something I’ll have to bear.”

The NFL Players Association was critical of NFL owners for creating the policy without consulting the NFLPA.

“The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new ‘policy.’ NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about,” the players’ union said in a statement.

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Scott Kelnhofer is a writer for The Western Journal and Conservative Tribune. A native of Milwaukee, he currently resides in Phoenix.
Scott Kelnhofer is a writer for The Western Journal and Conservative Tribune. He has more than 20 years of experience in print and broadcast journalism. A native of Milwaukee, he has resided in Phoenix since 2012.
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