Trump speaks out on NFL's controversial new anthem protest rule
President Donald Trump has responded after the NFL adopted a new policy that requires all players on the field to stand during the pregame playing of the national anthem.
According to ESPN, the new policy mandates that players who are on the sidelines for the playing of the national anthem must stand. However, the policy also gives players the choice of staying in the locker room and not participating.
Trump, who has previously expressed the view that players should stand for the anthem and respect the American flag, is a fan of the new policy.
He sad as much in an interview with “Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade that aired Thursday, while also suggesting that players who don’t want to stand perhaps “shouldn’t be in the country.”
“You have to stand proudly for the national anthem and the NFL owners did the right thing if that’s what they’ve done,” the president said of the new policy. “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 policy was officially announced Wednesday by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Teams will be fined if any of their players or personnel do not stand for the national anthem while on the field.
Statement from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell pic.twitter.com/1Vn7orTo1R
— NFL (@NFL) May 23, 2018
“We want people to be respectful to the national anthem,” Goodell said, per CNN. “We want people to stand, that’s all personnel, and make sure that they treat this moment in a respectful fashion that’s something I think we owe. We’ve been very sensitive in making sure that we give players choices, but we do believe that that moment is an important moment and one that we are going to focus on.”
Though Trump likes the policy, he indicated he doesn’t think players should stay in the locker room.
“Well I think that’s good,” Trump said of the policy as a whole. “I don’t think people should be staying in locker rooms. But still I think it’s good.”
Trump, of course, was at the forefront of the national anthem controversy starting last season. Though former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sparked the debate when he kneeled during a preseason game in 2016, it wasn’t until a September 2017 rally that Trump drew the ire of NFL players when he called for the “sons of b—–s” who kneel to be “fired.”
However, speaking to Kilmeade, Trump said he thinks the American people, not himself, helped bring about the new policy change.
“I think the people pushed it forward. This was not me. I brought it out. I think the people pushed this forward,” Trump said. “This country is very smart. We have very smart people.”
Though it has Trump’s support, the new policy is quite controversial.
According to Bleacher Report‘s Mike Freeman, who cited a variety of league sources, “an intense fear of President Donald Trump” motivated the change.
Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long, meanwhile, wrote on Twitter that the new policy is a result of “fear of a diminished bottom line” and “fear of a president turning his base against a corporation.”
Vice President Mike Pence, however, shares Trump’s sentiments.
#Winning ?? pic.twitter.com/aEJOCmB5lW
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) May 23, 2018
“#Winning,” he tweeted Wednesday, alongside a screenshot of a CNN story on the new policy.
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