Trump: NFL Owners “Afraid Of Their Players”

WASHINGTON (AP/105.3 The Fan) — President Donald Trump says National Football League team owners are “afraid of their players.” And he’s still calling for action against those who kneel during the national anthem to protest racial injustice.

Trump says he began criticizing the players because he has “so many friends that are owners.” He adds: “I think they are afraid of their players, if you want to know the truth, and I think it’s disgraceful.”

The president spoke in an interview that aired Thursday on “Fox and Friends.” He says “most people agree” with him.

Trump’s criticism of players who kneel during the national anthem sparked angry protests around the National Football League on Sunday, as about 200 players sat, knelt or raised their fists in defiance.

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CHICAGO, IL – SEPTEMBER 24: Alejandro Villanueva #78 of the Pittsburgh Steelers stands by himself in the tunnel for the national anthem prior to the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on September 24, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

A week ago, just six players protested.

Most NFL players on Sunday locked arms with their teammates — some standing, others kneeling — in a show of solidarity. A handful of teams stayed off the field until after “The Star-Spangled Banner” to avoid the issue altogether.

President Trump said over the weekend that the players protesting the anthem were “very disrespectful to our country” and called again on owners to stop what he considers unpatriotic displays in America’s most popular sport.

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Members of the New England Patriots kneel during the National Anthem before a game against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium on September 24, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (credit: Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

“This has nothing to do with race,” Trump said. “This has to do with respect for our country.”

The president’s comments turned the anthems — usually sung during commercials — into must-watch television shown live by the networks and Yahoo!, which streamed the game in London. In some NFL stadiums, crowds either booed or yelled at players to stand. There was also some applause.

The Dallas Cowboys displayed a “statement of unity” before their game on Monday. The team, along with the Jones family, locked arms and took a knee prior to the National Anthem for a moment of silence. The team and the Jones’ returned to the sideline and locked arms during the anthem.

“The reason I’m particularly proud of this team is because we all agreed that our players wanted to make a statement about unity and wanted to make a statement about equality,” Jerry Jones said after the Cowboys beat the Arizona Cardinals. “It was really easy for everyone in our organization to see that the message of unity and the message of equality was getting pushed aside and diminished by the controversy.”

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Members of the Dallas Cowboys link arms before the national anthem at the start of a game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 25, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. (credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump was quick to jump on social media Tuesday morning and applaud the ‘great anger’ from the majority of Cardinals fans as the stadium filled with the sound of booing at the Cowboys gesture when the initially took a knee before the anthem.

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GLENDALE, AZ – SEPTEMBER 25: Quarterback Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys links arms with teammates offensive tackle Tyron Smith #77 and offensive guard Chaz Green #79 during the National Anthem before the start of the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 25, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

A few minutes later, the President acknowledged the teams standing for the National Anthem.

On Wednesday morning, President Trump said that he had spoken to Jerry Jones.

“Jerry is a winner who knows how to get things done. Players will stand for Country!”

The Cowboys nor the White House have commented yet on what the conversation entailed.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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