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Trump: NFL sus­pen­sion would’ve sacked protests

New York Daily News - - NEWS - BY DE­NIS SLAT­TERY With News Wire Ser­vices

PRES­I­DENT TRUMP played Mon­day morn­ing quar­ter­back on Wednesday, opin­ing that the NFL could have avoided any con­tro­versy re­gard­ing protest­ing play­ers if it had only sus­pended Colin Kaeper­nick last year.

Trump’s fix­a­tion on play­ers kneel­ing dur­ing the national an­them was brought up dur­ing an in­ter­view with Fox News’ Sean Han­nity.

“I watched Colin Kaeper­nick and I thought it was ter­ri­ble. And then it got big­ger and big­ger and started mush­room­ing,” Trump said. “And, frankly, the NFL should have sus­pended him for one game and he would have never done it again.”

The Pres­i­dent has spent weeks harp­ing about play­ers who kneel dur­ing the “Star-Span­gled Ban­ner,” call­ing the form of silent protest dis­re­spect­ful to the flag.

Kaeper­nick, a for­mer San Fran­cisco 49ers quar­ter­back, be­came the first to take a knee last sea­son to protest the killing of un­armed black men by po­lice. He was not signed by a team this sea­son.

Trump’s lat­est ad­vice to the NFL came hours after he at­tempted to claim vic­tory in his bizarre bat­tle over the protests, tweet­ing that “it is about time” that NFL Com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell is “fi­nally de­mand­ing that all play­ers STAND for our great National An­them-RE­SPECT OUR COUN­TRY.”

Good­ell has made no such de­mand.

The com­mis­sioner had is­sued a memo to all 32 teams on Tues­day say­ing that he be­lieves play­ers should stand.

NFL own­ers will con­sider changes to a game man­ual that also says play­ers “should” stand dur­ing the national an­them at meet­ings in Man­hat­tan next week.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the play­ers’ union will join own­ers at the meet­ings, ac­cord­ing to a joint state­ment re­leased Wednesday.

“There has been no change in the cur­rent pol­icy re­gard­ing the an­them,” the NFL said in a joint state­ment with the league’s Play­ers As­so­ci­a­tion. “The agenda will be a con­tin­u­a­tion of how to make progress on the im­por­tant so­cial is­sues that play­ers have vo­cal­ized.” Trump thrust him­self into the cen­ter of the de­bate over the protests last month by call­ing on own­ers to fire play­ers who take a knee or raise a fist. On Tues­day, Trump con­tin­ued to take shots, ques­tion­ing NFL tax breaks and say­ing that the league is “dis­re­spect­ing our An­them, Flag and Coun­try.” He also at­tacked ESPN’s Jemele Hill, blam­ing the an­chor for hav­ing “tanked” the net­work’s rat­ings. Hill was sus­pended on Mon­day after en­cour­ag­ing those who dis­agree with NFL own­ers di­rect­ing play­ers to stand to tar­get team ad­ver­tis­ers. Trump’s heated rhetoric, which has never once touched on the is­sues that play­ers say they are protest­ing, has only led to a larger num­ber of stars tak­ing a knee.

“You can­not dis­re­spect our coun­try, our flag, our an­them. You can­not do that,” Trump seethed on Fox News Wednesday.

Dal­las Cow­boys owner Jerry Jones and Mi­ami Dol­phins owner Stephen Ross said ear­lier this week that they ex­pect their play­ers to stand dur­ing the an­them.

Play­ers were not pleased with the prospect of be­ing forced to stand.

Tampa Bay Buc­ca­neers de­fen­sive line­man Ger­ald McCoy said there might “be an up­roar.”

“I don’t think guys are gonna like it,” McCoy said on Adam Schefter’s Know Them From Adam pod­cast. “I think it’s gonna be an up­roar if that is to hap­pen be­cause you’re ba­si­cally tak­ing away a con­sti­tu­tional right to free­dom of speech. If guys wanna have a, I guess you would call it a peace­ful protest, I don’t think it’s right to take that away.”

Pres­i­dent Trump fumed Wednesday that kneel­ing protests could have been shut down by the NFL and Com­mis­sioner Roger God­dell (bot­tom) if the league had sus­pended Colin Kaeper­nick (far right), who started the move­ment, for a game last year.

GETTY

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