President Trump said Wednesday he was “shocked” when he learned of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made a statement supporting players’ protests during the national anthem.
Trump said in an interview on “Hannity” that players “should be standing” for the national anthem.
“When the national anthem plays and our flag, the great American flag, is raised, you should not be kneeling. You should be standing. Ideally, with your hand on your heart or saluting, but they should not be kneeling,” Trump said.
“They can protest enough. And I saw the NFL get very weak. I saw Drew Brees, who’s a warrior, great, great quarterback, a fan of his. I’m a fan of his. And I saw him make this beautiful statement. And then the next day he retracted the statement. He talked about his father and his grandfather fighting in the war for our country, our flag, and then the next day he retracted it. I just don’t get that.”
The president continued: “But you have to stand when the flag goes up. And I think they’ll lose a lot of fans and a lot of support in the NFL. That already happened before. I thought they learned their lesson. But I think it’s going to happen again. And I was surprised at Roger, Roger Goodell that he would have done what he did and made this statement that he made. Nobody was even asking for it.”
In the wake of the police-involved death of George Floyd and the ensuing protests, Goodell released a video statement apologizing for not listening to the players when they knelt during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality.
“We, at the National Football League, believe Black Lives Matter,” he said. “I personally protest with you and want to be part of the much-needed change in this country.
“Without black players, there would be no National Football League and the protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality, and oppression of black players, coaches, fans, and staff. We are listening, I am listening, and I will be reaching out to players who have raised their voices and others on how we can improve and go forward for a better and more united NFL family.”
Trump also lashed out at Goodell earlier this month, wondering whether he was going to allow players to kneel.
“Could it be even remotely possible that in Roger Goodell’s rather interesting statement of peace and reconciliation, he was intimating that it would now be O.K. for the players to KNEEL, or not to stand, for the National Anthem, thereby disrespecting our Country & our Flag?” he tweeted.